Justice Binta Nyarko, head of the team of judges in charge of the Federal Government’s efforts to prosecute suspected Boko Haram terrorists in detention across the country, has assurances that the suspects will enjoy fair hearing and the team’s assignment will be speedily executed by the four syndicated courts handling the cases.
This was disclosed in a press statement issued by Mr. Salihu Othman Isah, Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the Attorney- General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami. According to the statement issued on Monday, Justice Nyarko gave the assurances while addressing the maiden sitting of the courts at Wawa Military Cantonment, Kainji, Borgu Local Government Area of Niger State.
She equally stated that the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation should have invited the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to witness the proceedings. Justice Nyarko was quoted to have said the four judges to whom the cases have been assigned will exclusively focus on the cases for now and pledged that none of the suspects will face persecution during the trials.
“We are here to ensure that nobody is persecuted. We are here for prosecution and so we have come with open minds. We have been assigned to these cases and we have no other jobs for now.Though, this is not a regular set up of a court, however, we shall make do with what we have. I think the Federal Ministry of Justice should have invited the National Human Rights Commission to witness the proceedings here. I hope it will do so in subsequent ones. We shall be here till whatever time we close, even till 7pm every day until we dispense of the cases. So, let’s hit the ground running,” she said.
Justice Nyarko, who operated from Court 1, began the sitting at 1.35pm after leading the team of judges, prosecutors from the Federal Ministry of Justice and the defence team from the Legal Aid Council on an inspection tour of the facility at about 12.30pm. After the visit, the judges headed to their respective chambers to prepare for the cases.
Justice Nyarko thanked everyone associated with the process, especially the military, for their contribution in ensuring that the trials take place. Earlier, Mrs. Nkiruka Jones-Nebo, leader of the Federal Government prosecutors and Head of Complex Case Work Group (CCWG) in the Department of Public Prosecution of the Federal Ministry of Justice, said the arraignment of the suspects is a major milestone. She thanked the judiciary for releasing the four judges to handle the trials.
Mrs. Jones-Nebo, who spoke on behalf of the Director of Public Prosecution of the Federation (DPPF), Mr. Muhammad Umar Etsu, also thanked the military authorities for keeping the detainees in their facilities in good condition.
“I trust that the Legal Aid Council is in tune with the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation to see that the cases are not only expeditiously dispensed with, but be seen to be just and fair. We shall do a good job and we shall be seen to prosecute and not to persecute,” she said.
Mr. Achi Joseph Ayok, Director, Civil Justice at the Legal Aid Council, thanked the Attorney-General of the Federation for accommodating the council in the trial of the suspected terrorists. Mr. Ayok spoke on behalf of the Director-General, Legal Aid Council, Mrs. Joy Bob-Manuel.
The Deputy Commander of Giwa Project, Wawa Cantonment, Major E.B. Totoh, gave the total number of suspects in custody at the Giwa Facility as 1,669.
These, he said, include 1,631 adult males, 11 adult females, 26 male minors and one female minor.
The first day of the sitting closed at 7pm with about 13 cases heard.