Leadership (Abuja)

2 January 2013

Nigeria: Most Terror Suspects Arrested - Jonathan

Photo: Leadership
JTF soldiers in Jos

President Goodluck Jonathan announced yesterday that most members of terror groups had been arrested by security forces in the country, just as he said that, with more prayers, the country would overcome the violent crimes confronting the country - terrorism, kidnapping and armed robbery.

President Jonathan, who made this revelation during a church service to usher in the new year at All Saints Anglican Church in Abuja, yesterday, said that most of those who bombed places in the Federal Capital Territory had been apprehended by security agents.

According to him, "Most of the terror suspects have been arrested. Most people will not know what the security agencies have been doing. The people who bombed police headquarters, United Nations House and St Theresa's Catholic Church in Madalla have been arrested."

He gave the assurance that his administration would continue to improve security architecture in the country.

LEADERSHIP, however, gathered yesterday that the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) was responsible for the delays in the prosecution of terror suspects.

Jonathan who noted that prayers by the church had helped his government to stabilise the country at a time of challenge, adding that "there was time the country was drifting and everyone thought the country will not endure, but the prayers rescued us.

"We shall overcome terrorism, kidnapping and armed robbery with more prayers from the Church. The New Year will be better for the country. We have a huge population and we will continue to provide employment for our people and encourage entrepreneurship", the president stated.

Rev. Nicolas Okoh who delivered a sermon noted that the Anglican Church all over the world was celebrating the naming and circumcision of Jesus Christ as well as the new year.

In his sermon, Okoh urged Nigerians, including the church, businessmen, civil servants and politicians at all levels, to turn their hearts to the service of God and humanity.

He chided teachers and academics, as well as students who dress indecently on campuses, asking them to change. He also counseled traders who sell fake products, transporters who hike prices in festive periods, kidnappers, armed robbers and members of the Boko Haram sect to have a change of heart for their good and for the good of the country.

He also had words of advice for young men were in a haste to ride jeeps just after leaving school, and for traditional rulers and university authorities who sell titles and doctorate degrees to unworthy candidates.

Present to worship with the president were his wife Dame Patience Jonathan, Minister of Police Affairs Caleb Olubolade, Minister of State for FCT, Oloye Olajumoke Akinjide and the president's mother.

Security agency blames AGF for non-prosecution

A security agency in the country yesterday said that the attorney general of the federation should be held responsible for the long detention without trial of Boko Haram suspects.

The law mandates the federal government to arraign the suspects within 48 hours before a competent court.

LEADERSHIP sought more clarification on the reason behind the endless detention of the suspects without trial.

According to a source close to a security agency who spoke to LEADERSHIP on condition of anonymity, several hundreds of the Boko Haram suspects are currently in the detention centres of the State Security Service (SSS), Joint Task Force (JTF) and the police.

According to the source, "once the arrests are made, the files of the cases are sent to the federal director of public prosecution who goes through the evidence of the suspects' participations contained in their files.

"The DPP consequently makes recommendation to the AGF as the chief law office of the nation to arrange for the prosecution of the suspects."

He went to say that "the AGF should be asked to tell why the suspects have not been arraigned all this time."

Meanwhile, some prominent lawyers, Professor Itse Sagay (SAN), Abubakar Malami (SAN) and Alasa Ismaila, yesterday faulted the detention of the Boko Haram suspects in perpetuity without trial.

The lawyers, who spoke to LEADERSHIP over President Jonathan's claim that virtually all the Boko Haram leaders had been arrested by the nation's security operatives, said the failure of the federal government to arraign the suspects was illegal.

They added that except the government is telling the world that the so-called suspects are mere fabrications and that the federal government is still fishing for evidence for their trial, the nation's laws mandate the state to arraign the suspects within 48 hours.

According to Sagay, "Some of the Boko Haram attacks took place over a year ago. If the arrests were made accordingly and the suspects were arraigned before the courts, the government should have secured conviction by now."

He further faulted the president's claim on the grounds that the impact of such arrests was yet to be felt as the onslaught of the Boko Haram was yet to abate substantially in the northern part of the country.

"Arrest without trial amounts to an action in futility and illegality. I am not impressed with the so-called number of arrests by security operatives because the level of Boko Haram activities is still high. Churches and police stations are still being attacked unabated by the Boko Haram sect in the north. The impact of actions of the security is yet to be felt and they need to overhaul their strategies," he said.

On his part, Malami faulted the government for illegal detention.

He said, "The state does not have the right to detain suspects in perpetuity. It is a clear breach of the suspect's fundamental right and an outright disregard of the rule of law.

"Regardless of the crime involved, a suspect must be arraigned within a maximum time of 48 hours. This is one wrong begetting another and it must be addressed by the federal government without further delay."

Alasa on his own stated that the law allowed the state to arraign a suspect within 24 hours where there is a court and 48 hours where a court is not available.

"If you claim to have made some arrests and failed to arraign the suspects, that means you don't have evidence for their prosecution. The president, with due respect, is not yet telling the nation the truth about terrorism," he stated.

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