6 November 2012

Nigeria: Court Furious With FG Over Shoddy Prosecution of Ndume

The Federal Government Monday in Abuja continued to bungle the prosecution of Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume, charged for allegedly sponsoring Boko Haram.

When the case came up for hearing Monday before Justice Gabriel Kolawole at the Federal High Court Abuja, the prosecutor, Mr. Thompson Olatigbe, brought a witness, one Aliyu Usman, not listed in the proof of evidence it attached to the charges.

However, counsel to Ndume, Chief Rickey Tarfa (SAN), objected and observed that the name of Aliyu Usman was not listed among the witnesses in the prove of evidence submitted by the prosecutor to the court.

He also argued that there was no application before the court by the prosecutor to amend the proof of evidence.

When the judge asked the prosecuting counsel if Aliyu Usman was among the witness in the proof of evidence, he said no, and further stated that he was relying on the proof of evidence he filed on December 12, 2011, where three witnesses were listed.

He, however, asked for another date to file additional proof of evidence to accommodate Aliyu Usman as a witness.

Justice Kolawole irked by prosecuting counsel's comment, described the prosecuting counsel's statement as "a useless statement" and frowned at the Federal Government's unpreparedness to prosecute the charges against Ndume.

Kolawole, who said he did not want to give Ndume a technical victory, however decried the failure and inability of the Federal Government to prosecute the matter.

He said: "From the beginning of this case, the court has been the one prompting the prosecutor. A criminal case requires diligent prosecution.

"Justice is not only meant for the accuser, both the accused and the public require justice.

"In the light of today's anomaly the court is compelled to grant leave to the prosecutor of file additional proof of evidence to include the names of the witnesses.

"The prosecution counsel is thereby given 14 days within which to file additional proof of evidence and to serve the counsel to the accused person."

It was also stated that Justice Kolawole had at a previous sitting threatened to dismiss the charges against Ndume if the Federal Government was not prepared to prosecute the matter.

He had said: "I will discharge the suspect and that will be the end of the matter. If the state is not ready to prosecute the accused person, withdraw the charges and go to another place.

"I have always expressed my displeasure with regards to applications for adjournment of criminal cases.

"A trend one has noticed from the bench is that the state is always so anxious, perhaps too nervous, to arraign accused persons in high profile criminal cases such as this with a lot of media blitz, but when it gets to the nitty gritty of the real trial, the excitement and eagerness wanes.

"This court is so flooded with many cases that it has no time, resources or energy, to spare for cases that are not to be prosecuted immediately."

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