Mr. Femi Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria wrote to the Attorney- General of the Federation and Minister of Justice last month that the delay in starting prosecution of the sponsors could only further erode the confidence of Nigerians in the government. He wondered why arraignment was taking so long.
The devastation caused by insurgency that has seized the country by the jugular in the past 12 years calls for concerted action by the government. All out war by the military has not stopped the carnage in the North East. One missing link that security experts have advocated is going all out to fish out the sponsors of terrorism in the region, and the North West in the form of what has been generally and officially dubbed banditry. They have called on the government to demonstrate seriousness by not only locating the financiers, but in speedily bringing them to book.
When they were expected to be brought to court on Friday, their lawyers had managed to file cases to enforce their fundamental rights that must be heard first. We hope this is not used to scuttle delivery of justice in the case, as justice delayed is justice denied.
There was optimism that the war would soon end when the Federal Government announced in April that some sponsors had been apprehended and would soon be arraigned in court. It is five months down the line and the case against them has just been filed in court, eliciting some optimism that they would be served justice after all. Before then, six Nigerians suspected to be funnelling funds to the terrorists were apprehended and unveiled in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) that did not waste time in bringing up cases against them and 32 other global suspected terrorists.
Till date, all that is known of those arrested in Nigeria is that majority of them are operators of bureaux de change. Who are they and how high is their profile? Government and the security agencies are still keeping the information under wraps. Transparency is very important in combating all aspects of insecurity in the country, be it insurgency, banditry, kidnapping, communal conflicts or assaults by criminal herders. The identity of everyone who disrupts peace in the land should not be kept from the public. The excuse that investigation is ongoing is no longer tenable after five months of arrest. Four hundred is a huge number and failure to serve them justice is a disservice to the country.
We agree with Mr. Femi Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria who wrote to the Attorney- General of the Federation and Minister of Justice last month that the delay in starting prosecution of the sponsors could only further erode the confidence of Nigerians in the government. He wondered why arraignment was taking so long. Like Mr. Falana and many other Nigerians, we are bewildered that the Nigerian state is demonstrating such lack of capacity in handling basic investigation even when foreign countries such as the United States and UAE have offered to help in unravelling whatever mystery or loose ends there might be.
In recent times, it has taken the law enforcement and justice systems of other countries to help in dealing with crimes in Nigeria. Cases of corruption, cyber crimes in Nigeria have only been resolved when there is a foreign angle and those countries decide to launch into them in the interest of their own public. This is certainly not good enough. Those who are swiftly apprehended and served justice are mainly the less privileged who are either involved in minor infractions of the law, or errand boys of the main criminals.
The Federal Government should be able to successfully prosecute the sponsors of terror attacks in the country who have caused so much bloodletting, destruction of public and private property and displaced so many Nigerians, turning them to refugees in their own country.
There is an urgent need to revamp the Nigerian legal system. The legislative framework may also be tweaked to ensure that the clogs in the wheel of justice dispensation, especially in a case like terrorism, are speedily removed.
Other terrorists who have been arrested should be brought to justice. It is unacceptable that as many as have been reportedly apprehended are only being rehabilitated after they had shed so much blood of the innocent. Some of them who claimed to be repentant are even said to be receiving support of the state that is not available to their victims – being housed, paid stipends and trained to acquire skills ostensibly to turn them away from crime. All these could make crime more attractive to more Nigerians.
Committees of the two chambers of the National Assembly should swing into action in ensuring that the executive arm of government prosecutes the battle against terrorism diligently on all fronts. Unless people see that criminals are not only apprehended but prosecuted, the residents of the states where terrorism is prevalent now would be reluctant to supply credible intelligence needed to defeat the purveyors of terror. The attacks have lasted for too long. It is high time all arms of the security stepped up their acts to free the country if we are to accelerate development and exit the league of failing states.
Timber by EMSIEN 3 Ltd BG