By Tobi Soniyi
Mohammed Ashafa, who was indicted by the Federal Government in 2003 for recruiting and moving some Nigerian youths to Niger Republic and Pakistan for training as members of al-Qaeda has denied the statement he allegedly made voluntarily before the State Security Service (SSS) on March 30, 2006.
The accused, who is currently facing trial on terrorism related charges and felony, told the Federal High Court in Abuja that the statement was extracted from him under duress by SSS interrogators.
But, testifying Tuesday during a ‘trial within trial’ ordered by the trial judge, Justice Adamu Bello, an operative of the SSS, Ibrahim Bello Mohammed, told the court that he took Ashafa’s statement on March 30, 2006 following a directive from his Assistant Director who informed him that the accused wanted to volunteer a statement but he (Ashafa) did not know how to write in English Language.
According to him, the Assistant Director wanted somebody who understood Hausa language and could write the statement in English to take down the accused statement.
Ibrahim said he took the accused to his office, sat him down, read and interpreted the cautionary statement and the accused confirmed that he understood the precaution before he volunteered the statement.
The witness said: “The accused made the statement in Hausa language and I recorded it in English language thereafter I read and interpreted the statement to him in Hausa language and the accused confirmed that he understood it and signed and thorn print on it.”
Ibrahim added that he took Ashafa to the principal staff officer in whose presence he again read and interpreted the statement to the accused and he confirmed it to be correct.
Ibrahim told the court that Ashafa made the statement voluntarily in his office.
Also testifying, Hafsat Bawa, who shared office with Ibrahim said Ashafa voluntarily made the statement.
She said Ashafa claimed that he wanted to write statement in Hausa language was not correct.
The matter has been adjourned till November 19, 2012 for Ashafa’s evidence after he told the court he would not call any witness.