By Henry Umoru
FORMER Senate Leader, Senator Ali Ndume, All Progressives Congress, APC, Borno South, has asked the Federal Government not to carry out secret trial for arrested Bureau De Change, BDC, operators who have been accused of funding Boko Haram.
Speaking with journalists yesterday in Abuja, Senator Ndume, who was reacting to recent arrest of some BDC operators who were accused of funding terrorism among other security issues, said the trial must be an open one for the public to be part of, irrespective of how highly placed those involved were.
Ndume said when he was accused of sponsoring Boko Haram insurgents, he was tried publicly for six years in an open court, adding that at the end of the day, he was vindicated.
Recall that the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, had in March. said the Federal Government had arrested some Bureau De Change operators who were facilitating the transfer of money to Boko Haram terrorists.
Garba, who noted that some Nigerians transferring money to the sect from the United Arab Emirate, (UAE, were working with the BDC operators, had said: “Bureaus de change are facilitating money to terrorists. We have already worked with the UAE. Convictions have been achieved of Nigerians who are transferring money to Boko Haram terrorists and this also happens domestically.
‘’I tell you that by the time we finish this investigation, the shocking details will surprise many Nigerians.”
Ndume, who is Chairman, Senate Committee on Army, said: “The Presidency said recently that Nigerians would be shocked if it revealed the identities of those who are sponsoring the Boko Haram insurgents.
‘’Can you imagine that 400 Bureau De Change operators are the people funding the Boko Haram. When the BDC operators are arrested now, what will the government do with them. The Presidency is already saying their case is confidential. What is confidential about it?
“The Presidency should expose the identities of all the BDC operators so far arrested and carry out their trial in public. If any of them is innocent, he should be allowed to go while those found guilty must be made to face the music.
“When I was wrongly accused, I was tried publicly and I was vindicated. The trial lasted six years in an open court. If there is any criminal act linked to anybody. No matter how highly placed, let the evidence be placed before the public, there should be no secret trial.
“Nowadays, criminals are arrested and paraded without further action. Nobody knows what happens to the people who killed 11 soldiers in Benue State recently? What happened to those who beheaded policemen in Cross River State?
“If everyone is doing what he is supposed to do as defined by our constitution and laws, we would not have these problems. Citizens should expose suspicious movements.”
On travel advisory issued the government of the United States to its citizens planning to travel to Nigeria, Ndume said: “America has the right to advise its citizens on the issue of security just the same way I won’t advise anybody to travel anyhow within Nigeria. ’There is no big deal about the American travel advisory to its citizens wishing to come to Nigeria. The truth of the matter is that we are facing security challenges that are more intense than the situation before now, especially with the new dimensions, in addition to the existing ones. It is a matter of concern.
“I am of the view that security and welfare of the citizens should remain paramount. We need more personnel in the military and security forces with modern equipment to prosecute the war.
‘’ All hands must be on deck. Citizens must provide useful information while th3 security agents should be adequately empowered with modern weapons to enable them to act fast whenever information are provided.
“I am scared and worried because I don’t have anywhere to run to. Right now, I don’t have visa to any country. Nigeria is the only country I have, that is why I am so passionate about my country.
‘’I believe so much in this country, that is why I don’t travel out for my holidays. I spend all my holidays traveling from one state to another with members of my family. That is why the current security situation is of great concern to me.”