The Federal Government has perfected plans to [i]commence the second phase of the prosecution of Boko Haram suspects currently being held in a military facility at Kainji, Niger State.
The Solicitor-General of the Federation, SGF, and Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Justice, Mrs Beatrice Jedy-Agba, who made the disclosure to newsmen on Sunday, said the planned trial of the detained terror suspects would resume in March.
It will be recalled that the Federal Ministry of Justice had recently acknowledged the special intervention granted by President Muhammadu Buhari for the provision of funds & other logistics for the commence-ment 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 a fair trials that would meet global standards.
She said the federal government was committed to ensuring that justice was dispensed to assuage the feelings of victims and survivors of terror attacks and to decongest the detention facilities.
According to the SGF; “The federal government is taking steps to reconfigure the military holding facilities to make it adaptable and conducive for recommencement of trials.
“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 to ensure that accused persons have access to justice.
“We are obviously not going to open the place up, because of security concerns. I’m sure you are aware that recently, like a few weeks ago, there was an attempt to hit the facility.
“So, obviously, it is not going to be as open as you may want because we want to ensure that the security of our judges, witnesses and interpreters are protected,” she added.
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.