By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA — Chief investigator of the State Security Service, SSS, Mr James Ene Izih, yesterday, explained before a Federal High Court in Abuja, why the duo of Vice President Namadi Sambo and the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Bello Adoke, SAN, were not interrogated with a view to ascertaining their level of involvement with the Boko Haram Islamic sect.
Izih who, yesterday, testified as the second prosecution witness, PW-2, in the ongoing trial of the lawmaker representing Borno South Senatorial District, Mohammed Ali Ndume, also told the court that Ndume gave the telephone number of the Attorney-General of the Federation to the Islamic sect.
The witness said though Sambo and Adoke were alleged to have had contacts with the sect, “however, instead of inviting them for questioning as we did in the case of Ndume, the service decided to investigate the claim using our state-craft.”
The witness who told the court that he had been in the business of investigation for the past 31 years, maintained that it was an apprehended spokesman of the sect in Maiduguri, Ali Sanda Umar Konduga, and Ndume that fingered the VP and the AGF, in separate confessional statements they made upon their arrest by a special investigation panel that investigated the spate of bombings in parts of the country.
Ndume was indicted by Boko Haram ex-spokesman
He told the court that Ndume, who he said volunteered three separate statements upon his arrest on November 21, 2011, admitted having contacts with the Boko Haram sect, insisting that he even gave some materials including a compact disk, given to him by the sect, to both the Vice President and Director of the SSS.
“My lord, our investigative panel was set up with a mandate to trace, locate, arrest, question, detain and prosecute any person arrested in connection with the bombings. It was in the course of executing the mandate that one Boko Haram suspect, Konduga, a.k.a Usman Alzawahiri, was arrested.
“He was arrested at Gwange Area of Maiduguri in Borno State, where he functioned as the spokes-man of the sect. It was in the process of his interrogation by the Special Investigation Panel, SIP, that he mentioned Senator Ndume and one Saidu Pinda who is now deceased.
“Konduga had alleged that Ndume assisted the sect to carry out certain terrorist activities in Maiduguri. On account of that, we invited the accused person and I detailed some of my case officers to witness his voluntary statement on November 21, 2011.
“He made three different statements on that particular day and made additional statements on November 24, 30 and December 2, 2011, where he confessed that he had made telephone contacts with Konduga.
“Due to that confession, we had to take his mobile phone from him for expert analysis because we had already taken Konduga’s phone too.”
The two phones comprising Nokia E-7 and Nokia 27100, were tendered and admitted into evidence yesterday as exhibits P5 and P5(a).
Meanwhile, under cross examination by Ndume’s lawyer, Chief Ricky Tarfa, SAN, the witness said it was the decision of the security agency not to invite Vice President Sambo for interrogation, adding: “We investigate cases based on the facts we have. On the allegation against the VP, though we did not have an audience with him, we investigated the claim using our state-craft.”
Besides, Izih told the court that the SSS operatives who searched Ndume’s house, seized his laptop and phones, saying they, however, failed to recover any judgement linking him to the sect.
The court, yesterday, adjourned further hearing on the case till November 1, 5 and December 11.
Ndume gave AGF’s telephone number to Boko Haram —Witness
The witness further told the court that it was the accused senator who gave the telephone number of Mohammed Adoke to the Boko Haram.
The accused has, however, said he established the link to facilitate peace as a member of the Presidential Committee on Security in the North-East zone.
Izih said Konduga informed the panel that Ndume obliged him with the GSM telephone number of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation.
The witness said the number was used to bargain a governorship petition filed by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Borno State.
Izih said that Konduga had testified that the calls to the AGF were threats to spur him to influence the governorship election tribunal members to cede the election victory to PDP or risk mayhem in the state.
He explained that the name of the AGF was dragged into the panel report submitted on November 25, 2011 on the grounds that his GSM number was found in Konduga’s telephone set.
Izih said that Konduga’s transaction with the AGF was a threat to the minister’s life, adding that the accused facilitated it by giving out Adoke’s telephone number to a senior official of Boko Haram.
Ineh, in his testimony, further said that the items found in the accused’s telephone were indicative of his close connection with the dreaded group.
“The fact that Konduga was tried and convicted of terrorism acts is enough to show that the accused is also liable,” he said.
Justice Gabriel Kolawole adjourned the matter to Nov. 1, Nov. 5 and December 11 for continuation.
Specifically, Ndume who is answering to a 4-count criminal charge, had in his statements, maintained that the reason the sect approached him was as a result of his being a member of the Presidential Committee that was inaugurated on August 2, 2011, with a view to addressing the security challenges in the North Eastern part of the nation.
He said the first telephone exchange between him and the sect was on October 4, 2011, two months into the Committee’s work.
In a 24 paragraph affidavit he deposed before the court, Ndume said after the sect approached him, “he promptly informed one Usman, who represented the SSS before the Presidential Committee of his contact with the said Jammatul Sunnah Walid Jihad (otherwise known as‘Boko Haram’ sect) and also other members of the committee.
“He also informed the Director of State Security Service of his interaction with the said “Boko Haram” sect and forwarded a copy of the DVD he obtained from the sect to the Director of SSS for review.
“The Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency Namadi Sambo, is also aware that he was in contact with the Jammatul Sunnah Walid Jihad (otherwise known as ‘Boko Haram’).”