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Malami: FG to resume prosecution of Boko Haram suspects in Niger

Malami: FG to resume prosecution of Boko Haram suspects in Niger
January 26
00:42 2022

Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation (AGF), says the federal government will resume prosecution of Boko Haram suspects in Kainji, New Bussa, Niger state.

In 2017, the federal government had commenced a trial for persons suspected to be Boko Haram insurgents, and the proceedings held at a military base in Niger state.

At the time, the United Nations had raised concerns on human rights issues in relation to the suspects.

“We welcome the decision by the Nigerian authorities to start the trials of Boko Haram suspects, many of whom have been in prolonged pre-trial detention, including some since 2009,” Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the UN high commissioner for human rights, had said in a statement.

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“However, given the number of people who are due to be tried over the coming weeks – some 2,300 – we have serious concerns that the conduct of the proceedings may deny the defendants the right to a fair trial and an effective defence.

“The accused, who have all been charged under Nigeria’s Prevention of Terrorism Act, are being tried individually or in groups depending on the nature of their alleged crimes.

“The trials, which are being conducted by four judges, began on Monday at a civilian court set up at a military base and detention centre at Kanji in Niger state. The trials are being held behind closed doors with the media and public excluded.

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“Under Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to which Nigeria is a party, everyone is entitled to a fair and public hearing, unless proceedings need exceptionally to be held in camera. Any restrictions on the public nature of a trial, including for the protection of national security, must be both necessary and proportionate, as assessed on a case-by-case basis.”

During the trial between 2017 and 2018, more than 100 people were convicted and several others discharged on the grounds of no-case submissions.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) had, in December 2018, also expressed concerns over the conduct of the trials.

“It appears from the information available that the majority of defendants were discharged without trial for lack of evidence. Further, the great majority of the more than 360 persons convicted in these trials were charged with providing material and non-violent support to Boko Haram. Several observers also raised fair trial and due process concerns with respect to the Kainji trials,” the ICC had said.

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Speaking on Tuesday when he received Eniola Ajayi, Nigerian ambassador to the kingdom of the Netherlands, Malami said steps are being taken to ensure the continuation of the trials in Niger state.

According to a statement by Umar Gwandu, media aide to Malami, the AGF said Nigeria has cooperated fully with the ICC through submission of relevant documents on the conduct of the trials.

“With due diligence to Nigeria’s mandate under Article 86 of the Rome Statute of ICC, Nigeria cooperated fully with the court through submission of relevant documents, reports of panels of enquiry,” he said.

Malami commended Ajayi for her efforts and patriotism, adding that a committee has already been established for the domestication of the Rome statute in Nigeria.

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On her part, Ajayi promised to rededicate efforts to make positive impact in the discharge of her duties. 

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This story is published in partnership with Report for the World, a global service program that supports local public interest journalism.

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