West & Central Africa

Court throws out 468 cases against Boko Haram

Victims were left looking for justice barely a a week into the commencement of the secret trial of 1, 600 Boko Haram terrorist members in Nigeria.

Forty-five of the suspects have been sentences to varied jail sentences between three and 31-year terms and the court “discharged 468 suspects who had no case to answer.”

The court, sitting at a military facility in Kainji, Niger State dismissed 34 of the cases, and moved 28 of the cases for trial in Abuja or Minna.

This is the first and biggest case by the Nigerian government in which Boko Haram Islamic terrorist have been tried and sentenced over seven years of terror attacks in which 20,999 have been killed. The mass trial has drawn criticism because of its secrecy.

“The court ordered that the 468 discharged persons should undergo deradicalisation and rehabilitation programs before they are handed over to their respective state governments,” Lai said. The other trials have been moved till January 2018.

Amnesty International objected to the trial being held without scrutiny but said on Wednesday: “These trials should provide a much-needed opportunity to deliver justice for the many victims of human rights abuses and crimes allegedly committed by Boko Haram members.”

The UN Human rights commissioner said, “Any restrictions on the public nature of a trial, including for the protection of national security, must be both necessary and proportionate, as assessed on a case-by-case basis.” And noted that, “It is essential that Boko Haram insurgents are prosecuted and, if found guilty, held to account for killings and abuses they may have perpetrated, and that victims are able to receive justice. However, the lack of transparency regarding these trials is worrying, and we note that Nigeria’s National Human Rights Commission is not allowed to attend and monitor proceedings.”

“We have always contended that the government’s duty is to prosecute people who are criminals and terrorists. We, the Christians and others who have been victims, are still awaiting justice, not just in prosecuting the terrorists, which is the right thing to do, but to provide the necessary compensation and settlement of our communities,” said Neman Gowon, chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria in Jos North.

 

Hassan John is West Africa Editor, GCN and a priest of the Anglican Diocese of Jos

Image Credits: Google images/Screen Shot Boko Haram Video