On Monday, 9 October 2017, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) will commence trial of more than 1600 Boko Haram suspects at a Special Court set up by the Federal Government. Trial will begin with detainees in the Wawa Barracks, in Kainji, Niger State, for which a list of prosecutors to handle the cases have already been approved, and the Legal Aid Council has equally released a list of lawyers to stand in for the suspects.
Beyond this, four judges from the Federal High Court have also been drafted to sit on the cases at Kainji and dispose of them expeditiously. Mr. Salihu Isah, Special Adviser, Media and Publicity to the Minister in a statement issued 24th September, listed some of the challenges against the prosecution of the suspected Boko Haram terrorists to include poorly investigated case files arising from pressure during the peak of conflict at the theatre, over reliance on confession based evidence, lack of forensic evidence, absence of cooperation between investigators and prosecutors at pre investigation stages and poor logistical facilities to transport defendants from detention facility to court for trial, among others.
Isah stated that the trial would be in four categories, including “Boko Haram suspects who were, hitherto, investigated by the Joint Investigation Team set up by the Defence Headquarters, otherwise known as DHQ/JIT, and case files transmitted to the AGF; and after a careful review of the cases based on their individual merit, it was discovered that they have no prima facie cases that will sustain a charge against them in any court of law, hence, were recommended for release and handed over to the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) for rehabilitation and/or de-radicalisation.
“The second category is the set of suspects that the Attorney-General found prima facie cases against them and charges already filed at the Federal High Court, Abuja Division, who are also mostly in the detention facility under reference and may be willing to plead guilty for a lesser sentences.
“The other category are the suspects whose case file are either recommended for further investigation or that have no investigation conducted on them at all, hence, they do not have case files that will warrant the Attorney General of the Federation to form any opinion in respect of their case.
“Lastly, the fourth category is the suspects whose cases were reviewed and a prima facie were found and may be willing to opt for a full trial.”
He noted that given the above categorisation, the number of the suspects affected by any of the aforementioned categories would only be determined when the trial has commenced.