The Federal Government on Monday resumed the trial of suspected Boko Haram members in the Kainji Prosecution Project Phase IV in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory.
Speaking at the opening of the court session, the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), noted that the first phase commenced in 2017.
The News Agency of Nigeria quoted him as saying that the Federal Government, during the 2017 trial, secured 366 convictions, while 896 suspects were discharged for lack of evidence. He noted that 61 other cases were adjourned for further hearing.
He noted that the resumption of the trial was a demonstration of government’s commitment to the safety of lives and property of the citizens.
He stated, “I must acknowledge the fact that we have come a long way in this initiative. The first phase of the Kainji Prosecution Project commenced in October 2017 with remarkable achievements.
“We recorded a total of 366 convictions, 896 others were discharged for lack of sufficient evidence, and 61 other cases were adjourned for further hearing. There have been three phases of the exercise so far, spanning October 2017 to July 2018.
“I must, at this point, challenge all stakeholders to ensure that the momentum is sustained, seeing how important this assignment is to the well-being of our beloved country and its people.”
Fagbemi promised that the Federal Government would continue to deploy resources towards the enhancement of its prosecutorial capacity as well as support efforts towards deradicalisation and reintegration of repentant terrorists.
He added, “We have made tremendous efforts to ensure that the trials are conducted with due regard to the provisions of the constitution regarding openness as much as can be permitted, and in the circumstances provide the suspects with adequate opportunities to make their defence.
“I would like to urge the prosecutors and defence counsel to continue to maintain the highest levels of professional standards in this national assignment.”
NAN reported that the trial was being presided over by Justice Binta Nyako of the Federal High Court.
Also speaking, the Director, Criminal Justice, Legal Aid Council, Mr Abdulfattah Bakre, said the council had the consent of the defendants to represent them in the case.
Bakre promised to cooperate with the government to ensure quick dispensation of justice.
He added, “We are happy that this trial is resuming after such a long time and we are glad that the defendants will have the opportunity to be heard. We are representing them based on their trust and not on the instruction of the Federal Government.
“We were in Kainji some years ago and recently we were in Giwa Barracks in Maiduguri (Borno State) where we interacted with them and we have been fully instructed to represent them.”
The representative of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) said the commission would ensure that the defendants’ rights were respected during the trial.
The National Security Adviser (NSA), Nuhu Ribadu, said the resumption of the trial was in line with the country’s commitment to the rule of law and human rights-based approach to countering terrorism.
Ribadu said his office had ensured the full participation of the Armed Forces and other law enforcement, security and intelligence agencies towards the successful prosecution of all persons charged with terrorism under the Terrorism (Prevention and Prohibition) Act.
According to him, efforts have been made through training and capacity building of investigators and prosecutors towards an evidence-based trial and witness protection.
He called on all stakeholders to commit to the identified timeline for the completion of the trials, while assuring them of the full support of President Bola Tinubu to strengthen Nigeria’s countering terrorism strategies within a human rights framework.