By Richard Abu
There are strong indications that the Attorney-General (AGF) of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) may soon free 468 suspected members of the Boko Haram sect for lack of evidence that they belonged to the group.
The suspects are among over 1,000 insurgents, which the Federal Government arrested and investigated over their terroristsa�� activities.
The government is also prepared to resume the trial of other insurgents detained in various locations in the country.
In a press statement issued on Sunday by the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the Minister, Comrade Salihu Othman Isah, he revealed that the phase two of the trial at the Kainji detention facility in Niger State begins today.
Isah said that the resumption of their trial arose from the conclusion of investigation of over 1,000 suspects as ordered by the court during its proceedings of October 2017 by the Office of the AGF.
He explained that it is expected that those suspects with prima facie cases will be prosecuted, while others without it will have applications made for their discharge.
The discharged, Isah said, will undergo a process of deradicalisation from the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) before their final release to their various families.
The trial of the insurgents, Isah said is a concerted effort of the Federal Ministry of Justice and the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), which began in Kainji, Niger State on Monday, October 9, 2017.
Four judges were allocated to four dedicated courts to handle the trial located in a military facility in Kainji while defence counsel were provided for those suspects without capacity to hire private legal practitioners to defend them.
Unlike the first phase which was restricted, Isah said that a�?this phase is opened with some civil society groups, including human rights organisations and journalists invited to witness the proceedings. a�?
Already, about 82 Boko Haram detainees have benefited from the Federal Government window to plead guilty to secure low jail terms or unconditional release which is part of President Muhammadu Buhari administrationa��s effort to boost its human right records and decongest the prisons.
He said: a�?As a result, about 45 convictions have also been pronounced by the trial judges in the four syndicated courts established by then Acting Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, Abuja, Justice Abdu Kafarati. The various Boko Haram suspects were sentenced to jail terms ranging from two years to 15 years and with most of them backdated to the date of their detention.
a�?The second category is the set of suspects that the Honourable 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.
a�?The third 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 AGF to form any opinion in respect of their case.
a�?Also, the fourth category is that of the suspects whose cases were reviewed and a prima facie were found and may be willing to opt for a full trial.
Some of the 468 suspects are to be discharged for lack of evidence and be engaged in the Federal Government Deradicalisation Programme through the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) out of the total 1,669 that are in Kainji detention facility,a�? he said.
By Richard Abu