An Abuja Federal High Court on Wednesday threatened to strike out a suit brought by the Federal Government against Borno Senator, Ali Mohammed Ndume.
Ndume is standing trial for allegedly having links with and sponsoring the dreaded Boko Haram sect.
The trial judge, Justice Gabriel Kolawole, threatened to strike out the suit for want of diligent prosecution by the government.
At Wednesday’s resumed hearing, the prosecution whose witness was to give evidence based on the call data and other inputs on mobile phones tendered as exhibits before the court, failed to produce its witness in court.
The matter was adjourned on April 29, 2015 to enable the prosecution to call its witnesses in continuation of trial on Wednesday.
However, the prosecution counsel, Mrs. G. N. Okafor informed the court that its “expert witness” had taken ill and was unable to be in court.
As a result, she sought for an adjournment to enable her to produce the witness at the next adjourned date.
Chief Ricky Tarfa (SAN),counsel to the accused, in reaction to the prosecution’s application for an adjournment, expressed displeasure at the request and urged the court to use its discretion to decide accordingly.
Delivering a bench ruling, Justice Kolawole aligned with Tarfa’s position and threatened to strike out the suit for want of diligent prosecution.
Kolawole said: “The opportunity for today’s proceedings was dashed because the prosecution suddenly took ill and is unable to come to court.
“Because there is no medical report produced to support the claim, I find the excuse of ill-health almost improbable.
“But I have already indicated that I will oblige the prosecution the adjournment sought,” he said.
Justice Kolawole, however, warned that in the event that the prosecution would be constrained to make another application for adjournment, it should be prepared to persuade the court to grant such request its favour.
He noted further that he was mindful of exercising its judicial discretion in the matter owing to the political status of the accused person who is a serving Senator.
The judge described the Nigerian society as “incredulous”, as it would read meanings into the court’s decision if the matter were to be struck out or the defence closed.
He assured that the court would not be deterred by such permutations to indicate a proper exercise of a judicial discretion which it has.
Ndume was arraigned before Kolawole on December 12, 2013 on a four-count charge bordering on terrorism by the Department of State Services (DSS).
He is also accused of sponsoring the Boko Haram sect, and failing to disclose the cell phone number of Konduga, which was alleged to be in his (Ndume’s) possession.
He had pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The prosecution had, through its third witness, tendered on December 11 and 14, 2012 some call logs and three digital video discs (DVDs), containing call-data records intended to prove the allegation that Ndume had interactions with some Boko Haram members.
Also admitted were documents containing findings based on the investigations carried out by a Special Investigation Panel (SIP) set up by the DSS on the case.
A prosecution witness told the trial court that there were 73 instances of communication between Ndume and Konduga.
A Nokia E7 phone allegedly belonging to Ndume was said to have been used in communicating with Konduga, whose phone identity the SSS gave as Nokia 2700.
Despite Ndume’s argument that the items marked P7, P8, P8a and P8b were inadmissible, the trial judge admitted them in evidence, a development that prompted Ndume’s two appeals.
The judge adjourned the case till July 2, 2015 for continuation of trail.