8 February 2013

Nigeria: Defence Headquarters Will Screen Terrorism Suspects in Maiduguri

Maiduguri — The Defence Headquarters said on Thursday that all the terrorism suspects in the custody of the Joint Task Force (JTF) in Maiduguri would soon be screened.

Air Commodore Ademola Onitiju, the Deputy Director, Civil-Military Relations' at the Defence Headquarters Abuja, made this known at a town hall meeting with religious and political leaders in Maiduguri.

He said the screening by an investigative panel had become necessary to determine the level of their complicity in the charges against them.

"Subject to the approval of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) a panel of experts will be assembled to screen all those in detention.

"Those who are found to be clean will be released while those found to be wanting will be prosecuted in courts of law," he said.

Onitiju added that the military would collaborate with the civil authorities toward the speedy trial of those found wanting.

"We are going to require the assistance of the political authorities toward trying the suspects in law courts," he said.

Onitiju explained that it was not the primary function of the military to engage in the detention of suspected criminals, adding: "our major role is to safeguard the country against external aggression.

"But the civil authority invited us to intervene after the police capabilities had been overstretched."

Onitiju said that the town hall meeting was aimed at getting feed backs from the people on the operations of the JTF in the state.

"I am here on the orders of the CDS to get the feedback from the people on the operations of the JTF. We are going to take all these inputs to him in Abuja."

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the meeting was attended by traditional and religious leaders from all parts of Maiduguri.


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