FEDERAL Government of Nigeria has completed plans to commence the second phase of the prosecution of Boko Haram suspects currently being held in a military facility at Kainji, Niger State.
According to the Solicitor-General of the Federation, SGF, and Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Justice, Mrs Beatrice Jedy-Agba, “the planned trial of the detained suspects would resume in March.
Also remember that the Federal Ministry of Justice recently acknowledged the special intervention granted by President Muhammadu Buhari for the provision of funds and other logistics for the commencement of the exercise.
The SGF revealed that the trial, which has been done in phases, was temporarily halted to ensure proper investigation of the suspects and to put necessary measures in place to ensure that they were given fair trials that would meet global standards.
She said the federal government is committed to ensuring that justice is dispensed to assuage the feelings of victims and survivors of terror attacks and to decongest the detention facilities.
“We will start the prosecution by the end of the first quarter of 2023. We are in the process of renovating and, in fact, reconstructing facilities such as the Courtrooms and residential areas.
“It is important to ensure that there are enhanced measures put in place. We are utilizing Military facilities and therefore, they were not built like proper Courts.
The resort to the use of Military facilities is to ensure that trials are conducted in a safe and secure environment. There are risks associated with moving such large number of accused persons at the same time for trial, so this is one critical issue that is of utmost concern.
“We have secured all relevant approvals to proceed with the projects and we are working very closely with the Office of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) and other military authorities to ensure that by the end of the first quarter of 2023, we will definitely start trials,” she added.
Besides, Mrs Jedy-Agba, said the Federal Ministry of Justice was concerned about the pain and plight of victims of terrorism, likewise the sensitive issue of the rights of the accused persons.
“The whole idea is to ensure that while respecting the rights of the defendants, we also have to consider the sensibilities of Nigerians who have been victims of terrorism, as well as the general security of Nigerians as a whole.
“So, we will, as much as possible, ensure that the minimum human rights requirements are met. We will open the trial venue for observations of select Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), as well as human rights institutions, like the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).
“We are working with the Legal Aid Council (LAC) and other stakeholders
The SGF said the number of accused persons in the scheduled trial was huge and appreciable, saying she was however not in a position to give the specific number as arrests were still being made in the anti-terrorism fight.
“I don’t want to be specific on that, because the figure changes every time, as security agencies keep making arrests.
“I cannot say for certain, how many they are right now. But it is quite a sizeable number”, the SGF added.
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