A Federal High Court in Abuja yesterday granted the request of the federal government to call two additional witnesses to testify against Senator Aliyu Ndume, charged with allegation that he sponsored Boko Haram.
The witnesses are MTN and a forensic expert.
Three prosecution witnesses had already testified in the case. In granting government’s request, the trial judge Justice Gabriel Kolawole, dismissed Ndume’s opposition to the prosecution’s application.
The judge consequently gave the federal government seven days to file its additional proof of evidence and serve same on the defence.
Ndume had through his lawyer, Mr. Rickey Tarfa (SAN), argued that the request to call additional witnesses by the prosecution was “a ploy to bring back through the back door”, exhibits which the Court of Appeal had expunged from the records.
But Justice Kolawole held that the ruling of the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division, delivered by Justice Amiru Sanusi on December 17, 2013, was not related to the exhibits for which the prosecution sought to call the additional witnesses.
He held that the ruling of the Court of Appeal was only related to Exhibits P7, P8, P8A and P8B, which the accused person had appealed against its admission in evidence.
The judge held that the exhibits in support of which the additional evidence was to be called had long been admitted before the court in two rulings on December 11 and 14, 2012.
The details of the exhibits in support of which additional witnesses were being called have not been made public.
Justice Kolawole also held that though it was elementary knowledge in law that an exhibit that had been marked rejected could not be re-tendered in the same proceedings, the exhibits which the prosecution sought to call additional witnesses for, were not the same marked rejected by the Court of Appeal.
The judge said: “The court cannot anticipate what the proposed witnesses are coming to say.
“In the light of this, it will be an injudicious exercise of discretion by the judge to shut out or to shut down the evidence to be tendered by the proposed witnesses.”
The court consequently dismissed Ndume’s other grounds of objection, among which was that the prosecution failed to give details of the proposed witnesses, especially the one from MTN, including their names, addresses, status and areas of expertise.
Ndume had also urged the court to refuse the prosecution’s application because it constituted an abuse of court process because the additional proof of evidence sought to be filed by the prosecution was baseless.
In rejecting Ndume’s counsel argument, Justice Kolawole said: “The court cannot exert on the prosecution what is not imposed by law.”
The court added that the defence ought to focus on the “materiality and the relevance” of the evidence to be given by the witnesses, rather that bothering itself with the details of the witnesses.
The court added that the defence was at liberty to ask for an adjournment if handicapped to cross-examine the witnesses due to lack of sufficient information about the witnesses which had been withheld by the prosecution.
The matter was then fixed for June 30, July 1 and 9 for continuation of trial.
Ndume was arraigned on a four-count charge of terrorism, after he was implicated by one Ali Konduga, said to be the a former spokesperson for Boko Haram, Ali Konduga had since been convicted and sentenced.
Ndume had pleaded not guilty to all the charges.