Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Court remands Senator in custody over Boko Haram

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•IN THE DOCK: Ndume in court just before he was ordered remanded in SSS custody by the Chief Magistrate ... yesterday •IN THE DOCK: Ndume in court just before he was ordered remanded in SSS custody by the Chief Magistrate ... yesterday
Sects’s spokesman bags nine years jail SSS screens Ndume’s, Sheriff’s call logs Senate insists on thorough investigation

A SENATOR accused of sponsoring Boko Haram – the dreaded Islamic sect troubling some parts of the North and Abuja – was yesterday remanded in the custody of the State Security Services (SSS).
Chief Magistrate Oyebola Oyewumi of an Abuja Chief Magistrate’s Court issued the order after the SSS arraigned Senator Ali Ndume for alleged sponsorship of Boko Haram (Western education is sin).
He was arraigned with the spokesman of the group, Ali Sanda Umar Konduga, over a two-count charge of criminal breach of trust, criminal intimidation and anonymous calls.
Konduga is accused of disclosing classified information to unauthorised persons between September 15 and November 3 in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, and Abuja.
The alleged offence is contrary to Section 398 of the Penal Code.
Ndume pleaded not guilty to the charge. Konduga, alias Usman Al-Zahawiri, was sentenced to a nine-year jail term after pleading guilty to the offence. 
Konduga could still bag a bigger sentence, if further investigation reveals more facts. The court deferred the sentence following an application by the prosecutor, Cliff Osagie, who said the SSS was on the trail of other members of the group. 
The court adjourned the matter till December 6 for the Senator’s trial. 
Ndume is to remain in the custody the SSS, pending a formal bail application.
Konduga, who spoke Hausa through Mustapha Shehu, an interpreter, admitted being guilty as charged.
He pleaded with the court to temper justice with mercy after confessing that he was behind the threat text messages to the Judges sitting in the Borno State Election Petition Tribunal which relocated to Abuja.
Konduga also claimed responsibility for the threat messages sent to Jigawa State Governor Sule Lamido and Niger State Governor Babangida Aliyu.
He named other victims as: Senator Sanusi Daggash (former Minister of Works) and Ambassador Dalhatu Tafida (Nigeria’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom.
According to him, the threat messages were to compel the victims to comply with the conditions of Boko Haram group.
Konduga claimed that the text messages were being written and sent to him by Ndume with the phone numbers of the target personalities.
Chief Magistrate Oyewumi convicted Konduga – in line with Section 318 of the Criminal Code Law.
She said Ndume should be allowed unhindered access to medical facilities and his lawyers.
Ndume told the court that he was invited by the SSS on Monday and that he never thought he would pass the night there and, as such, did not take his drugs along, adding that he is suffering from prostate cancer.
The court refused the oral bail application by his counsel, C.I. Nnaemeka, asking him to formalise it.
The matter was adjourned till December 6 for hearing of the matter and the bail application.
Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for the spate of terrorist activities and bombings across the Northern states.
The group has also attacked Abuja, killing people in suicide bombings on the Police Headquarters and the United Nations building.
Book Haram’s most recent attacks were in Damaturu and Potiskum where more than 60 people were killed in co-ordinated attacks.
Rattled by the arraignment of its member for financing Boko Haram, the Senate went into a two-hour executive session yesterday.
Senator Ndume is being detained by the State Security Services (SSS) for allegedly sponsoring Boko Haram. 
Senate spokesman Enyinnaya Abaribe told reporters after the closed-door session that their deliberations centred around national security and issues of national interest. 
A self-confessed Islamic fundamentalist, Konduga, who was jailed yesterday by an Abuja Chief Magistrate’s Court for terrorist acts, named Ndume as one of those behind the deadly sect. 
Abaribe said the Senate is “very well aware about an allegation concerning a member of the Senate”. 
He said the Senate is always in the forefront of the efforts to make the country safe for Nigerians. “We urge security agencies to continue with their investigation.” 
Abaribe said: “Security agencies should continue with their investigation and they have told us that investigation is continuing. At the end of the day, if anybody is indicted, the law should take its course.” 
According to him, though the Senate is worried about the development “we stand by our member until investigation is concluded.” 
The Senate will make a categorical statement after investigations, he said. 
He said: “What it means is that an allegation has been made and the personality involved is still a member of the Senate. 
“The Senate cannot go against its member when investigation is still going on. When investigation is concluded, the Senate will come up with its position on the matter.” 
Abaribe said that the Constitution of the country has a presumption of innocence on the accused until proven otherwise, adding:
“He is still an accused “and the security agencies have told us that they are still investigating the matter.
The statement against him (Ndume) is just a mere allegation and we urge Nigerians to exercise some patience to allow security agencies to conclude their investigation. 
“The Senate has been very supportive of the security agencies to do their job. If there is an allegation, we want the security agencies to do thorough investigation,” he said.