By Senator Iroegbu in Abuja
The Federal Government has disclosed its intention to commence trial of Boko Haram suspects in custody with established cases of terrorism at Kainji, Niger State.
This was disclosed yesterday by the Director of Prosecutions for the Ministry of Justice, Mr. Muhammed Umar, at the ongoing capacity building programme for the military and civil prosecutors in Abuja tagged: “Strengthening Justice and Accountability in Nigeria”.
The Programme organised by Wayamo Foundation, Africa Group for Justice and Accountability (AGJA) and International Nuremberg Principles Academy, aims to address the most serious crimes under Nigerian criminal law.
Umar who was represented by Mr. Yusuf Ibrahim, said that those to be tried were suspects with established prima facie cases, while decision was yet to be taken on those without any confirmed evidences. He however, assured that the Federal Government would take a stand on what to do very soon.
He said, “This is a very important programme. My happiness is that we have our colleagues in uniform… since we have officers in our midst they will help us because while we only depend on the powers of investigation, they have the power to arrests and in custody.
“Luckily, Federal Government has begun trial of those in custody with terror-related cases in Kainji. Those with established prima facie cases, their trials will commence but for those without any evidence established against them yet, Federal Government will soon take decision against them.”
The Director of Justice commended the organisers for assisting in building the capacity of Nigerian legal officers by equipping them with conventional international skills.
He said the training would widen the horizon of prosecutors (both civil and military) and would help in drastically reducing crimes in the Nigerian society.
According to him, participants at the previous training were taught the need to rely on information available on files of various crimes, go through them, do an evaluation before filling charges in court.
In the same vein, the Director Legal Services, Nigerian Army, Brig-Gen. Yusuf Shalangwa, said the military had taken the necessary legal procedures to gather enough evidence against the terrorist suspects.
“The military is at the forefront of complex criminal cases and preparation of the case files against the terrorists to ensure that they have the appropriate evidences before trial commences.”
There is however, the need for continuous round the clock training for skilled manpower in this regard,” he said.
Shalangwa who underscored the importance of capacity building in any profession said, “It is worthy to say that the law is dynamic and there is the need for continuous manpower training to ensure an effective and efficient military prosecution”.
He said that Army personnel were participating in the training not by accident, having participated in previous training, stressing that the training was sequel to the one held in June this year. He appreciated the Chief of Army Staff, Gen Buratai for approving the attendance of Army personnel for the training.
He added that the Nigerian Army Police Corp whose duty was to investigate criminal activities would further be equipped by the training in dealing with terrorist cases in the country.
Shalangwa also commended the organisers for collaborating with the Nigerian Army and the Federal Ministry of Justice, while he assured that the Nigerian Armed Forces will continue to carry out their activities with strict compliance with the rule of law in term with international military best practices.
Against this backdrop, the stakeholders stressed the need to domesticate some of the prosecution processes of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the handling of civil and criminal cases by Nigerian prosecutors both in public and military judicial institutions.
The Director, Wayamo Foundation, Mrs. Bettina Ambach, said this was necessary because the country had not yet domesticated the ICC best practice.
Ambach noted that the training was aimed at strengthening justice and accountability in Nigeria by ensuring the prosecutors acquire necessary knowledge they needed in dealing with crime in line with best practices across the world.
According to her, the objective “is to build capacity to address the most serious and complex crimes under Nigerian criminal law (international, transnational and terrorism related crimes), including those crimes that potentially fall under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC)”.
She said that Nigerian judicial system needed more dedicated investigators and prosecutors on both civil and criminal matters.
Topics listed for the workshop include; Synergies Between Offences under the Nigerian Criminal /Penal Code/ Military Law and those under the Rome Statute-a Comparative Analysis, Military Justice and its Challenges: Command Responsibility and Superior Orders, Complementarity-Prosecuting International Crimes in a Domestic Context and Understanding the Rights of the Accused before Civil and Military Courts.