Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume was arraigned yesterday on a four-count charge before Justice Gabriel Kolawole of an Abuja Federal High Court.

Ndume is accused of hoarding information on planned terror attacks and providing logistics to convicted Boko Haram spokesman, Ali Sanda Umar Konduga (alias Usman AI- Zawahiri).

He is also charged with allegedly giving telephone numbers of certain public officers to Boko Haram for the purpose of communicating terrorist messages.

The alleged offences are contrary to and punishable under Sections 3(b), 4(1) (a) and 7(1) (b) of the Terrorism Prevention Act, 2011.

Ndume, a Senator representing Borno South, pleaded not guilty to the charge after it was read to him. Clad in a white Babariga with a white cap to match, the senator smiled occasionally as his plea was being taken.

Plea taking over, the prosecution counsel, Mrs. Olufemi Omotunde, applied for a hearing date to enable the prosecution adduce evidence to the charge.

Omotunde, who is the Director of Public Prosecution at the Federal Ministry of Justice, said the prosecution will call eight witnesses to prove the charge against Ndume.

She said witnesses’ statements and extract of relevant text messages had been attached as proof of evidence.

Efforts by Ndume’s counsel, Mr. Rickey Tarfa (SAN), to move a bail application filed on behalf of Ndume since December 5, was resisted by the prosecution.

Mrs Omotunde argued that it was premature to move the bail application, which, she said, was filed before the case was assigned to a judge.

But Tarfa submitted that the prosecution had already filed a counter-affidavit to the bail application, making the protest unnecessary.

Mrs Omotunde, who insisted on having five days to prepare the written address, said: “My lord, we were served prematurely because the court was not seized of the matter as at that time. We have not filed our written address.”

Intervening, Justice Kolawole said “I’m disposed to granting them opportunity to file a written address. What is good for the goose is good for the gander.”

Tarfa replied: “My lord, we have filed the application since December 5. The accused has been in their custody since November 21. Ordinarily, they (prosecution) ought to reply to the motion within two days.”

Justice Kolawole, who reduced the five days requested by the prosecution to three days directed that the written address against the bail application must be filed within 72 hours. He gave the defence counsel 24 hours to reply before adjourning till December 16 for hearing of the bail application.

The Judge, who observed that the defence counsel did not protest against Ndume’s continuous detention in the SSS custody, however, pointed out that he will review the situation at the next sitting.

He said: “Once an accused is duly charged before the court of competent jurisdiction, the only proper place for him to be remanded is prison, which is the only facility where people standing trial are to be reminded.”

Consequently, he ordered that the accused person should remain in the custody of the SSS and must be allowed reasonable access to his lawyer.

Ndume had earlier been arraigned with Konduga over a two-count charge of criminal breach of trust, criminal intimidation criminal and anonymous calls.

The charges were terminated by Chief Magistrate Oyewumi Oyebola, following the withdrawal of the First Information Report (FIR) by the State Security Service (SSS).

The prosecution counsel, Cliff Osagie, told the court that a fresh charge had been filed against Ndume. He should not be tried in two courts over same allegations, he said.

Owing to the development, the ruling on Ndume’s bail application scheduled for the day was arrested.

The new charges against Ndume are:

•”That you, Mohammed Ali Ndume (m) on or about the 4th day of October, 2011 somewhere between Maiduguri and Abuja, being in possession of the mobile phone number of Ali Sanda Umar Konduga (alias Usman AI- Zawahiri), a terrorist spokesman of the Boko Haram sect which you know to be of material assistance in securing the apprehension of the said Ali Umar Konduga, did fail to disclose same information to a law officer as soon as reasonably practicable and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 7(1)(b) of the Terrorism (Prevention) Act, 2011 and punishable under Section 7( 1) of the same Act.

•”That you, Mohammed Ali Ndume (m) on or about the 4th day of October, 2011 somewhere between Maiduguri and Abuja, having received information from Ali Sanda Umar Konduga, a terrorist spokesman of the Boko Haram sect regarding planned attacks on judges of the Borno State Election Tribunal and the National Assembly, which you know to be of material assistance in securing the prosecution of members of the said Boko Haram Sect for an offence under the Terrorism (Prevention) Act 2011 did fail to disclose same information to a law enforcement officer as soon as reasonably practicable and you thereby committed and offence contrary to section 7(1)(b) of the Terrorism (Prevention) Act 2011 and punishable under Section 7(1) of the same Act.

•”That you, Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume (rn) on or about the 4th day of October, 2011 somewhere between Maiduguri and Abuja, being the operator of MTN GSM telephone number 08035998045, did provide logistics to wit: telephone numbers of certain public officers including the Hon. Attorney-General of the Federation, to Ali Sanda Umar Konduga (alias Usman Al-Zawahiri), a terrorist spokesman of the Boko Haram sect, for the activity of sending terrorist text messages to them, which you know is connected with an act of terrorism and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 3(b) of the Terrorism (Prevention) Act 2011 and punishable under Section 3 of the same Act.

•”That you, Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume (m) on or about the 4th day of October, 2011 somewhere between Maiduguri and Abuja did knowingly render support for an act of terrorism by supplying the telephone numbers of certain public officers, including the Hon. Attorney-General of the Federation, to Ali Sanda Umar Konduga (alias Usman AI-Zawahiri), a terrorist spokesman of the Boko Haram sect, for the purpose of communicating terrorist messages to the said public officers and you thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 4(1)(a) of the Terrorism (Prevention) Act 2011 and punishable under Section 4 of the same Act.”