By Ese Awhotu
The Federal Government has said that, it will begin the trial of 1,600 Boko Haram suspects being held in military camps across the country on October 9.
Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Shehu Malami, disclosed this in a statement yesterday, assuring that, the cases would be speedily tried.
“All is now set to begin the arraignment of suspected Boko Haram suspects in various detention facilities in the country,” the minister said.
It also said 220 detainees had been recommended for release and deradicalisation for want of evidence.
Recall that, the trial of various cases of alleged terrorism was suspended following the annual vacation of judges nationwide, which began in July.
Malami said yesterday, that government prosecutors have been assigned to the cases just as defence counsels would be provided by the Legal Aid Council.
The minister, said in the statement signed by his media aide, Salihu Isa that, “All is now set to begin the arraignment of suspected Boko Haram suspects in various detention facilities in the country,” he said “It is slated to kick-start tentatively on Monday, October 9, 2017
“The proposed prosecutions of over One Thousand, Six Hundred (1600) detainees held in Kainji will commence by early October, 2017 after the opening of the new legal year.
“Currently, four (4) judges have been deputed by the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court to sit on the cases at Kainji and dispose of them expeditiously.”
He said special prosecutions will start with the detainees in Kainji and followed by detainees in Giwa Barracks, Maiduguri .
He said while nine convictions have been secured from 13 terrorism cases, there were 33 other terrorism being tried at various Federal High Court divisions.
The minister further disclosed that detainees profiled at the Kainji detention facility awaiting judicial proceedings and deradicalisation programme were 1,670.
He added that , detainees remanded at the Federal High Court, Maiduguri and transferred from Giwa Barracks to Maiduguri Prisons were 651.
On the challenges facing the trial of the Boko Haram detainees, Malami listed the challenges as; poorly investigated case files due to pressure during the peak of conflict at the theatre, over reliance on confession-based evidence, lack of forensic evidence, and absence of cooperation between investigators and prosecutors at pre-investigation stages.
According to him, other challenges were poor logistical facilities to transport defendants from detention facility to court fortrial, scarcity of skilled/trained forensic personnel to handle investigation of complex cases, inadequate security for counsel handling terrorism cases and converting military intelligence to admissible evidence.