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Court halts Ndume’s attempt to escape trial

15 June 2012, 16:39

Abuja - A Federal High Court on Friday in Abuja dismissed an application filed by Mohammed Ndume, an alleged financier of the Boko Haram sect, for charges against him to be quashed.

Ruling on the application, Justice Gabriel Kolawole held that the charges had linked Ndume to the operations of the dreaded sect.

 He said that it was premature for the court to quash the charges brought against him, adding that ``a mere denial of an offence is not a ground for exoneration.''

Kolawole said that an allegation of probable link of the accused to the sect should not also form the ground to demand for the quashing of the charges.

The judge said the argument on the likely abuse of court process canvassed by the defence team was frivolous.

 ``From available record, the prosecution did not maintain two different suits against the applicant on similar charges as canvassed by the defence team.

 ``In fact, it was verified to show that the initial charges before a Chief Magistrate was withdrawn by the prosecutor a week before the applicant was arraigned on Dec 1, 2011.

 ``I also find it difficult to believe that the defence team could challenge the signing of the charges by the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), what else should he do?

 ``The AGF is not expected to be neutral as a judge because he has conviction that an offence has been committed; to hold otherwise is to bar him from performing his constitutional duties.

 ``I do not have the power to quash the charge based on the fact that the AGF signed the charges; to do so is to foreclose criminal prosecution in the country.

 ``The accused/applicant has been linked with the four-count charge before me and it would only be in the interest of justice to allow the commencement of the trial.

 ``The application is hereby dismissed as the charges have established evidence against the accused/applicant,’’ he said.

 Ndume had said the State Security Service (SSS) drafted `frivolous’ terrorism charges against him.

 He had said the prosecution did not establish evidence linking him with the terror group.

Mr Rickey Tarfa (SAN), counsel to Ndume, had said the action was an abuse of court process as according to him, the SSS brought his client to the court while he was standing trial for similar charges at a Magistrates’ Court.

Tarfa had explained that Ndume established contact with the group based on his appointment as a member of the presidential committee to help quell the hostilities in the North East.

Mrs Olufumilayo Fatunde, the prosecution counsel, had prayed the court to dismiss the application, as according to her, the evidence against the accused was strong.

Fatunde had said the court had the jurisdiction to try the accused, and that the application was an attempt to frustrate the take-off of the trial. 

The judge, however, ordered that the accused be allowed to enjoy the bail earlier granted him.

 Kolawole then adjourned the case to July 3 and July 10 for commencement of the trial.



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