The Federal Government has vowed to prosecute Boko Haram terrorists and anybody suspected to be engaged in acts of terrorism using the instruments of the law.
The National Security Adviser (NSA), Maj-Gen. Babagana Monguno (rtd), stated this on Tuesday in Abuja, at the technical consultations on considering and developing comprehensive approach to prosecuting, rehabilitating, and re-integrating former members of Boko Haram terrorists.
Monguno said that Nigeria is resolve to win the fight against terrorism through its core national values, which includes respect for human rights as guaranteed by Chapter 4 of the 1999 Constitution and relevant international human rights conventions.
He stressed that “whereas violence do not respect human rights, and share no such values, we are committed to ensuring that every suspect charged with terrorism has a day in court”.
He stated that counter-terrorism measures are only effective when anchored within a rule of law and human rights framework, adding “that is why we undertook a holistic approach to strengthening our criminal justice system to serve as our most formidable weapon against terrorism”.
Against this backdrop, the NSA said that Nigeria is partnering with European Union (EU), United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC), Counter-Terrorism Committee Executive Directorate (CTED) and other relevant agencies to find the best “approach to prosecuting, rehabilitating and re-integrating former members of Boko Haram”.
“We are therefore, looking beyond the ongoing counter-insurgency campaigns in the Northeast to the next phase where Violent Extremist Offenders (VEOs) who had either repented or had passed through the criminal justice process were rehabilitated and re-integrated back to the society,” he said.
Monguno said this commitment to defeat terror through the strength of laws and values informed the “Abuja Declaration on the Treatment of Violent Extremist Offenders under the Nigeria Countering Violent Extremist (CVE) Programme of April 14, 2016, which among others recommended that:
“CVE programmes need to be developed and implemented within a strategic policy and legal framework that promotes an end to violence, accountability, justice, re-integration and reconciliation; and Federal Government establishes and implements a sector-wide monitoring and evaluation framework for the De-radicalisation programme through the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA).
“Also that appropriate authorities develop and establish a mechanism for the transfer of those awaiting trial or convict(s) to the custody of the Nigerian Prison Service (NPS); and investigation and justice agencies establish a coordination mechanism to ensure that prosecution and court hearings are conducted in a timely fashion and in accordance with national legislation,” he said.
In his contribution, the representative of the EU delegation, Mr Richard Young, stated that “in tackling global terrorism, there were various views on its solutions, including those of the view that terrorists who surrender and are captured should be sent to prison, de-radicalised and be reintegrated back into the society.
He said he supported those that are of the view that terrorists should be fully prosecuted and face the law, which he said was a difficult view”.
Young gave examples of Italy and Spain, with historically good legal systems, which helped in providing reduced sentences for terrorists in exchange for information for the arrest and prosecution of others involved in terrorist act”.
Meanwhile the Defence Headquarters has alerted members of the public of another antic being employed by the escaping Boko Haram terrorists that were smoked out of Sambisa forest by the combined efforts of the Nigerian Armed Forces.
A statement by Brigadier General Rabe Abubakar, Acting Director, Defence information said, “Available information indicates that some fleeing Boko Haram terrorists are now disguising as menial workers to melt into communities and towns with a view to organizing terrorists attack against our innocent citizens.
“The unfortunate recent incidents in Madagali and Maiduguri are instructive.
“The Defence Headquarters therefore advises citizens to be on the alert and be wary of these tricks of the defeated terrorists who are hell-bent on remaining relevant in spite of their lost battle.
“This sensitization becomes necessary now to create security awareness to our citizens to be conscious of some strange faces that could take menial jobs in their communities or towns, especially now that festivities are around the corner” Abubakar said.