From GODWIN TSA, Abuja
A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja yesterday admitted into evidence, telephone conversations and text messages call logs allegedly exchanged by Senator Ali Ndume and the Chief Spokesman of the Boko Haram , Ali Konduga. The call logs and SMS messages were marked as ‘primary evidence’ in the trial of Ndume by Justice Gabriel Kolawole.
The call logs and text messages obtained from two telephones belonging to Senator Ndume and Konduga were processed by a forensic examiner from the department of the State Security Service (SSS), Mr. Aliu Usman. Counsel to Senator Ndume, Chief Rickey Tarfa, (SAN), failed in his bid to stop the admission of the documents.
His ground of objection was that the SSS operative, who prepared the evidence as a forensic examiner from SSS did not disclose his qualification to court, to determine his status. He said the failure of the expert to back up his claim with requisite qualification as demanded by law was important to admissibility of the documentary evidence.
Beside, the counsel argued that the telephone conversations and the SMS messages documented in a bounded report was not certified as required by section 102 of the Evidence Act.
The SAN argued that before such a document from a public officer could be admitted in evidence by a law court, it must be certified by the appropriate authority. The counsel also objected to admission of the document on the ground that it was a computer-generated document that was not backed up with a certificate as required by section 84 of the Evidence Act. He therefore asked Justice Kolawole to throw out the document for not being admissible in law.
Prosecuting counsel, Mr. Thompson Olatigbe, however, asked the judge to discountenance the objection on the ground that it was prepared by the witness and signed as his own report of the forensic examination carried out on the telephones of Senator Ndume and Konduga.
He told the court that the SSS operative had earlier introduced himself as a forensic examiner and would not have been employed by SSS if he was not qualified. Ruling on the matter, Justice Kolawole agreed that the failure of the SSS operative to establish his qualification was important to the case. The judge in the ruling, however, agreed that the document did not fall among the public documents that must be certified before it could be admitted in law.
The judge also held that the witness never claimed that he generated the contents of the report from computer as claimed by the defence lawyer. The court said that probate value to be attached to the report would be determined in the course of trial. since the witness did not disclose his qualification.
Earlier, the witness had told the court, how he was mandated by a probe panel to examine the conversations and text messages exchanged by Senator Ndume and Boko Haram spokesman to ascertain the allegation of the Boko Haram sect that the Senator was their financier Further hearing continues today.