Daily Trust (Abuja)

4 December 2013

Nigeria: Defence Headquarters Recommends Trial of Over 500 Terror Suspects,Release of 167 of the Detainees

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JTF fighting terrorism

Defence headquarters has recommended the trial of over 500 terror suspects and the release of 167 suspects among about 1,400 detainees screened in detention facilities in Maiduguri, Yola and Damaturu between July and September.

In a statement signed by the Director Defence Information, Brigadier General Chris Olukolade, The Joint Investigation Team set up by the Defence Headquarters has recommended immediate trial of over 500 persons apprehended in the course of security operations against terrorists in Yobe, Borno and Adamawa States.

He said, The suspects are among the almost 1,400 detainees screened by the team at the detention facilities in Maiduguri, Yola and Damaturu between July and September.

General Olukolade added that, "Those recommended for immediate trial include high profile suspects some of whom were training other terrorists in weapon handling as well as those who confessed to being trained in Mali and other countries for the purpose of perpetrating terror in Nigeria."

" Also among those recommended for trial are a Medical Doctor, paramilitary or service personnel who were fighting on the side of the terrorists and other individuals who offered direct logistics support to the terrorists," he said.

"The team however recommended the release of 167 of the detainees from detention in Maiduguri, Yola and Damaturu. About 614 others whose cases were inconclusive have been recommended for review. The report also proposed that some of the detainees be tried for other offences ranging from armed robbery, murder to drugs related offences. If the recommendations of the team sails through, the trial of some of the suspects will be held in the states while others may be tried at the Federal level by High Courts," Olukolade explained.

He further stated that, "Receiving the reports at the Defence Headquarters, the Chief of Defence Staff, Admiral Ola Sa'ad Ibrahim commended the team for being thorough in conducting the assignment. He assured them that the recommendations will be treated with dispatch after due consultations with appropriate authorities."

He said that the military authorities would continue to ensure that due process and highest professional standards were followed in managing the security operations in the states covered by the State of Emergency, adding that DHQ was committed to necessary steps that would ensure justice and fair play.

The report has since been forwarded to the Presidency through the office of National Security Adviser (NSA). Meanwhile, the NSA is already in consultation with the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) on subsequent litigation procedures following consideration of recommendations in the report.

It will be recalled that the Defence Headquarters in July 2013, set up a 19 member Joint Investigation Team of senior officers to screen and categorise detainees apprehended in the course of operations in the North East. The measure which was meant to decongest the detention facilities in the area of operations, was also to ensure that necessary processes were set in motion for expeditious prosecution of culpable suspects in the fight against terror.

The team which comprised military, police, officials of Federal and State Ministries of Justice as well as Immigration, Prisons and Customs officers, was tasked to examine, classify and recommend appropriate actions against detainees in the various detention centres in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States, The defence headquarters statement said.

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