Justice Ahmed Ramat Mohammed of the Federal High Court Abuja will today begin trial within trial in the suit filed by the Federal Government against two Nigerians, Abdullahi Mustapha Berende and Saheed Adewumi, suspected members of an Iranian terrorist organization.
At a resumed sitting yesterday, the trial judge ordered for the trial within trial to enable counsels argue on the admissibility or otherwise of the statements of the accused persons sought to be tendered in evidence by the prosecution counsel, Chioma Onuegbu.
The decision for trial within trial was sequel to the application of Onuegbu in response to the objection of counsels to the accused persons’ statements.
Testifying in court for the prosecution, an official of the SSS told the court that the 1st accused person (Berende) made two statements on February 8 and February 25, 2013; while the 2nd accused (Adewumi) made his statement on January 15, 2013.
The prosecution held that the accused persons wrote the statements voluntarily and in their own hand writings as well as endorsed them before he counter signed.
However, the defence counsels objected to the admissibility of the statements as exhibits before the court on the grounds that they were not voluntarily made by the accused persons.
One of the defence counsels, M. Hanafi stated that the statements offended Section 29 of the Evidence Act as according to him, “they statements were made under coercion.
But in reply, the prosecution counsel stated that the witness is educated enough and that he identified the statements through his signature, adding that proper foundation was laid as the witness had confirmed that the accused persons wrote their statements voluntarily.
The terror suspects are standing trial on a 6-count charge for their alleged involvement in terrorism offences between 2011 and 2012 in the Middle East and Lagos.
They both pleaded “not guilty” to the charge and thereby applied for bail.
The Federal Government had claimed that Abdullahi Mustapha Berende, between September 2011 and December 2012, in Tehran, Iran had supported terrorism acts, involved in training on use of dangerous weapons and fire arms with the intent of perpetrating terrorism crimes in Nigeria.
The offence it was learnt ran contrary to Section 5 (1) (a) of Terrorism Prevention Act 2011 and punishable under Section 5(1) same Act.
In count two, the Federal Government alleged that Abdullahi, while in Iran, had information to commit terrorism acts but concealed such information from security operatives, and thereby committed an offence contrary to Section 8(1) of the Terrorism Prevention Act 2011 as amended.
Count three stated that Abdullahi at Tehran and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) collected foreign currencies in US Dollars, Euros etc denominations to aid and abate the commission of terrorism acts, contrary to Section 13(1) (a) of the Terrorism Prevention Act 2011 and punishable under the same Act.
Abdullahi was equally accused in count four of recruiting persons for an Iranian terrorist organization an offence the Federal Government said it violated Section 10 of the Terrorism Prevention Act.
In count five and six, Abdullahi and Adewumi were accused of conspiring to commit terrorism Act in Lagos in September 2011, an offence contrary to Section 17 of the TPA, 2011; just as technological devices including cameras were found on them contrary to Section 12 of the TPA, 2011.