By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA — Determined to prove its allegation that Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume had a convivial relationship with the Boko Haram Islamic sect before he was apprehended by security agents on November 21, 2011, the Federal Government, yesterday, called a witness that testified against him before a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja.
The witness, Mr Abdulkareem Farouk Dauda, who is a lead investigative officer with the State Security Service, SSS, yesterday, gave graphic account of the processes that culminated in the arrest and subsequent detention of the embattled lawmaker representing Borno South Senatorial District.
Dauda, who is the first prosecution witness, PW-1, told the court that Ndume was hulled in for interrogation, after the convicted self-confessed spokesman of the sect, Ali Umar Konduga, insisted that he was one of their sponsors.
Led into evidence by the prosecuting counsel, Mrs I.I Idevba, the witness told the court that he was part of the team that on November 23, 2011, searched the house of the accused person at 30, Moses Adasun Close, Apo legislative quarters, where he said some indicting documents were secured by the SSS.
He further told the court that upon his arrest, Ndume made four separate statements, where he allegedly explained how he was contacted by members of the sect.
The said statements were, yesterday, admitted into evidence and marked as exhibits B1 to B4, by trial Justice Gabriel Kolawole.
SSS yet to probe Sambo’s involvement
Nevertheless, the witness told the court that the SSS was yet to investigate Ndume’s allegation that the Vice President, Namadi Sambo, was aware of his involvement with members of the Jammatul Sunnah Walid Jihad, otherwise known as Boko Haram.
Specifically, Ndume who is answering to a four-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’).”
When the defence counsel, Chief Ricky Tafa, SAN, asked why the allegation made against the Vice President Sambo was not given any consideration, the witness said his team was not mandated to delve into that aspect of the matter.
He said: “The accused was assigned to my team by extension after he had a discussion with our superior officer who was the chairman of the investigative panel. I was instructed as a member of that team to take him to the interview room where I provided him with stationery he used to write his statement.”
Ndume begs for leave to travel abroad
Meanwhile, the court, yesterday, adjourned till July 10 to hear a fresh motion filed before it by the embattled lawmaker who is begging the court to allow him to travel abroad for the lesser Hajj.
Sequel to objection raised against the motion by the prosecuting counsel, Justice Kolawole gave the Federal Government 72 hours to file a formal opposition to the application.
Ndume was accused of furnishing the Boko Haram sect with classified information that aided their terrorist operations in the country.
He was arrested by the SSS on November 21, 2011 and docked before the high court on December 12, sequel to his indictment by Konduga, who fingered him as one of their major sponsors.
According to the federal government, the offence he committed was contrary to section 7(1) (b) of the Terrorism (Prevention) Act, 2011 and punishable under Section 7(1) of the same Act.
Ndume has since asked the court to quash the charge against him for want of incriminating evidence.