20 February 2018

Nigeria: NHRC Flays Delay in Arraignment of Boko Haram Suspects

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has criticized the delay in the arraignment of suspects arrested in connection with Boko Haram activities in the country.

The NHRC's Director of Protection and Investigation, Abdulrahman Yakubu stated this last week while reacting to the recent trial of Boko Haram suspects at the Wawa Cantonment of the Nigerian Army in Kainji, Niger State.

He said the delay in arraigning the suspects, many of whom were arrested between 2014 and 2015, raises issue of the fairness of their trial as provided by the 1999 Constitution and the United Nations Convention on Civil and Political Rights.

He said while the court process has been fair, the time between the arrest and arraignment of the suspects is a source of concern.

Yakubu also suggested that prosecution lawyers go through the charges very well before bringing them before the court and more time for defence lawyers, who are of the Legal Aid Council (LAC) to study the case files very well.

"There are other areas but I think another issue is providing the suspects with interpreters. The court has been doing so; the defendants have access to interpreters who interprete in the language that they understand. So that is a plus to the process," he said.

Yakubu also hailed the speedy manner the cases were handled, saying it is a fallout of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA), which provides for summary trial where an accused pleads guilty.

"The trial is open, and the public witnessed it, and this is also a signal to all the stakeholders in court to also helps the court too because the court is also aware that people are observing the process so the court will be mindful of how it conducts the process," he said.

"That same instrument provides for this kind of trial. A trial of this nature cannot be an all-comers affair. Due to the sensitivity of the charges and the offences committed by the defendants and also because of public order and the interest of national security. So, this convention provides for restricted public trial," he added.


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