A Federal High Court in Abuja today ordered that the Senator representing Borno South in the National Assembly, Sen. Aliyu Ndume, be remanded in Kuje prison pending the determination of his bail application on Monday December 19.
Justice Gabriel Kolawole, while ordering Ndume’s transfer from the custody of the SSS to the prison, said it was not proper to have the accused held by his accusers.
Kolawole also stated that the prison, unlike the SSS, is recognized in law as the proper custody of persons facing trial, who were yet to be granted bail, adding that Ndume’s wish to have unfettered access to his family, lawyers and physicians would be satisfied in prison custody.
Ndume is facing a four-count charge bordering on terrorism, brought against him by the Federal Government.
He is charged with the offence of concealing information on the operation of the dreaded Boko Haram Islamic sect from law enforcement agencies.
After listening to the submissions of the prosecution and defence counsel, the court adjourned to Monday, December 19, 2011, to deliver its ruling on the application.
Moving the motion for bail, Ndume’s lawyer, Mr. Rickey Tarfa, SAN, cited the provisions of Section 35 (4) (5) of the 1999 Constitution, saying that an accused remained innocent until his gilt had been proved.
He said it was illegal to continue detaining the accused after December 5, 2011, when initial charges against him were withdrawn at the Abuja Chief Magistrate Court.
He urged the court to exercise its discretion and grant Ndume bail since the offence for which he was accused was not punishable by death and therefore, was a bailable offence.
He added that the accused’s health condition requires that he be granted bail to enable him receive effective medication.
The defence counsel further submitted that the accused would not jump bail.
Tarfa based his submission that Ndume would not jump bail on the grounds that he is a Senator, was a two-time member of the House of Representatives as well as a family man with children.
He also told the court that Ndume would not interfere with evidence if granted bail.
He therefore asked the court to grant the accused bail in the most liberal terms, and on self recognition.
Opposing the bail application, the prosecution counsel, Mrs. Olufunmilayo Fatunde, said the prosecution had established a prima-facie case against Ndume.
She told the court that Ndume’s health concerns were not raised with the SSS, and told the court to dismiss it as an afterthought.
She said, “Whatever medication they brought for him, he was allowed to take it. There was no special request from any medical doctor concerning the state of his health. Making heavy weather about his health is an afterthought and I most humbly ask my lord to discountenance it.”
She urged the court to refuse bail and instead grant accelerated hearing of the case, and told the court to “take cognizance of the threat that the Boko Haram sect poses to national security.”
Fatunde said Ndume might use his influence as a Senator to interfere with evidence, and also threaten the lives of witnesses.
She further expressed fears that Ndume might abscond if granted bail especially as the charge for which he was accused carried as high as 20 years imprisonment.
Before adjourning the matter to Monday, December 19, 2011, for ruling on the bail application, Kolawole set February 2nd, 7th and 14th, 2012, as dates for trial.