Funded by the Federal Republic of Germany and Implemented by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)
Stakeholder Dialogue: Enhancing Case Management and Facilitating Access to Justice in Cases of Violent Extremism and Terrorism.
Day 1: Sept 04, 2023
The workshop commenced with the Nigerian National Anthem by 9:50am.
Opening Address was given by Mr. Danilo Campisi, Deputy Country Representative, United
Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). In his address he thanked the UN for
supporting the program. He stated that terrorism was an ongoing concern in the world
and that the workshop will give a platform for deliberation and exchange of ideas on how
judges, correctional services and all stakeholders can work towards fair trial, access to
justice and reintegration of the defendants.
Mr Johannes Lehne, Charge d’affaires a.i., embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany,
Abuja gave a welcome speech as well. In his speech, he stated that the concern of the
Federal Republic of Germany in this kind of workshop is to see that the rule of law is still
being upheld in the face of all these crimes.
Mr Peter Ogbodo, Director, Joint Services, Federal Ministry of Interior in his welcome
address said Nigeria was looking to partner with these sorts of organisations for the
security of the correctional facilities of Nigeria.
Ms Muchenata Mundopa, Project coordinator, UNODC gave the dialogue objectives,
rationale, methodology, and expected outcomes. She said that the expected outcome is
to develop action plan that can be taken further and worked upon. She noted that setting
the target of developing a roadmap in a two-day workshop would be quite ambitious.
Thereafter, goodwill messages were delivered by Office of the National Security Adviser
(ONSA), National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Federal High Court (FHC).
In the Goodwill message from the Office of National Security Adviser, the representative
stated that the program came at the right time. She appreciated the kinetic efforts of
the security agencies and the non-kinetic efforts of the stakeholders present.
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) gave its goodwill message through its
representative. He stated that the commission appreciated the need for the fair hearing
of cases of person alleged to be members of or alleged to be associated with Boko
The was no representative present for the State Security services (SSS) so there was no
goodwill message from them.
The Hon. Justice Nyako representing the Federal High Court (FHC) stated that the idea of
rehabilitation, reintegration and deradicalisation was first suggested by FHC judges who
handled the case of 1,900 Boko Haram suspects that were tried in Wawa cantonment.
Although they got bashed for it at first. She expressed disappointment in the fact that
3years after the trial, these defendants were still held in detention even though they
were discharged and acquitted. She hoped that this dialogue would be used to bring
solutions to these problems and these solutions would be implemented and it would not
just be talk as usual.
Group photos and tea break was taken around 10:40am.
At 11:30am the session resumed with Ms Binta making a presentation on behalf of the
NCOS on the “Deradicalisation Program: Roadmap to Effective Delivery of Reintegration
Agenda.” In her speech she stated the interventions that the UNODC and EU have made
into the NCoS to help in the deradicalisation program.
The Joint Investigation Centre (JIC) was to speak about the “Deradicalisation Program:
Prospects and Challenges”. However, the JIC representatives stated that the JIC didn’t do
any Deradicalisation program as their main duty was investigation. He stated that after
the officers in the forefront arrest, they hand over to JIC and the JIC investigates. During
interview and interrogation, they elicit information that can help with further activities
on the field for combating terrorism. However, according to him, where during
investigation they meet suspects that need rehabilitation, they send them to the
“operation safe corridor” in Gombe state.
Question and Answer/ plenary discussion
While opening the floor for the question and answer/plenary session, Hon. Justice Binta
Nyako stated that the State High Courts have no jurisdiction on terrorism cases and that
it was the FHC that had jurisdiction on terrorism cases. She further said that every state
should have a Family Court that has jurisdiction on Juvenile. However, she also stated
that these Family Court do not have jurisdiction on terrorism, and the FHC does not
jurisdiction on juvenile. Therefore, this created a lacuna in our laws in relation to the criminal justice of cases where children are accused of terrorism. My Lord decried the horrible situation in which the 1,900 inmates that were tried in Wawa Cantonment in respect of Boko Haram terrorism were still being held in detention over three (3) years after they had been discharged and acquitted by the court. She further asked why many more suspects had been arrested and detained in the cantonment without trial. She said
the ministry of justice should have answered that question but that she could not see them at the workshop. She expressed disappointment in the way the system was being run as it showed that Nigeria was not ready to tackle its problems.
Moving further in the plenary session some of the participants stated that the absence of
the ministry of Justice was a huge gap in the workshop as there were questions that the
ministry had to answer in relation to the discussion.
After the question and answer session participants went to grab lunch around 1:50pm
The Session resumed 15:20pm
Thereafter, Mr Saka Azimazi, A human right expert, spoke on the Human Rights,
Derogations and National Security. In his presentation, he addressed the various human
right laws and under what circumstances these rights can be suspended. For instance, in
an emergency right to liberty might be suspended or where a prisoner attempts to escape
lawful custody he might be killed and it would not amount to an infringement on his or
her right to life. In his conclusion, he recommended that laws should be enacted to
enforce fundamental rights rather than derogation. After that he gave another
presentation on enforcement of fundamental human rights of persons arrested on
suspicion of Boko Haram activities. In his second presentation, on enforcement of
fundamental human rights for Boko Haram Detainees, he talked about the important role
of the new Anti-Torture Act, 2017. He said that this law now criminalised situations
where after Trial within trial it is discovered that there was really torture before the
statement of the defendant was obtained.
The session now moved to another question and answer/plenary session.
During this session the Ministry of Justice representatives were now present. They
apologized for their absence in the morning session stating that they just got informed
about the activities that morning and they got on their way immediately. They stated
that they were ready to try the matters in Wawa cantonment but they were waiting for
the green light from the authorities. The representative of the NCoS who said he was the
head of the de-radicalisation program, asked what was the fate of the detainees who
were still held in Wawa cantonment after they had been convicted. He asked whether
they would be asked to re-serve their sentence at the National correctional centre or
whether them serving the sentence at Wawa cantonment was in accordance with the
The representative of the MOJ said that she was not in the right position to answer the
question as she was not a judge.
One of the lawyers suggested that the court should try the military authorities for
contempt of court for refusing to release those in Wawa Cantonment. However, another
participant in response, said that the law did not allow contempt trial of military
personnel regular court as there were express provisions of the act that prevented these
military personnel from being tried in regular courts except in Court Martial.
Mr AD Mbaya in his address noted that the statement by Mr Saka Azimazi that sometimes
Remand warrants don’t have return date, was incorrect. He said that the return date was
one of the features of a good remand warrant.
Thereafter, the moderator informed the participants that we had come to the end of the
activities for the day as the last presentation had been postponed to the next day.
Participants dispersed to reconvene at 9:30am the next day, September 5, 2023.
Day 2: Sept 05, 2023
The workshop commenced for the second day around 10am. Mr Sulayman Dawodu was
invited to take his presentation that was carried over from yesterday. Before his
presentation, however, he did a recap of the activities of the Stakeholders dialogue from
After the recap he delved into his presentation on the Prospects of Restorative Justice in
cases of Violent Extremism and Terrorism. He noted that this was a controversial topic
and that even developed countries were yet to fully incorporate it as they are currently
testing it. According to him, restorative justice is meant to be non-retributive like the
traditional criminal justice set up. He further stated that restorative justice in cases of
violent extremism and terrorism was different from what was obtainable in terms of
lesser crimes. He said that restorative justice in Violent Extremism and Terrorism is a
kind of conciliation between the perpetrators and the survivors. He noted that this was
not a working framework already but the aim of this discourse was to look at the
prospect of making this a part of our system.
He tried to differentiate Restorative Justice from Transitional Justice. He said that
Transitional Justice was used where it was on a community issue. While Restorative
justice was applicable where the crimes were random and not to a particular group.
He said RJ’s expected endpoint was the remorse of the perpetrators and the willingness
of the victims to accept them back into the society. He noted that for RJ to work, the
services of experts had to be employed as the Perpetrators had to be properly prepared
to meet with the victims and there was no room for trial by error.
After his presentation, there was another presentation by Mr Halilu from the National
Human Right Commission on “Access to justice and human rights considerations”. He took
the presentation on behalf of Mr Richard Iheme, whom he said had to quickly leave for
another assignment. He talked about the fact that the military and the human right
commission had a dialogue in the peak of the crisis and since then they have had a better
cooperation. Further, he stated that the NHRC has a framework for Transitional justice.
According to him, access to justice is a fundamental human right. He said however, that
the fundamental right was not well respected in Nigeria. And the method of handling
criminal cases in Nigeria was to arrest before investigation contrary to the more ideal
way of arresting only after proper investigation.
He suggested legal awareness, adoption of mediation and avoiding unnecessary
adjournment of cases as some of the ways to ensure that access to justice will be well
achieved. He noted that on the recommendation of Justice Nyako the NHRC was on ground to
observe the proceedings of the trial at Wawa cantonment. He said the team of NHRC
included NBA, and FIDA representatives. The trial was in July, 2018. He gave a summary
of the report by the Commissioner that led the NHRC team to the Wawa cantonment.
Immediately after the presentation, the question and answer/plenary discussion was
taken. The representative of the NCoS noted that the NCoS Was not involved or consulted
for expert advice in the de-radicalisation program ongoing in Borno.
In another comment, an officer from Interpol noted that the data of these persons that
have gone through operation safe corridor should be shared with other agencies to
facilitate global security.
An officer of the National Orientation Agency and a member of the board of advisers for
the Operation Safe Corridor (OPSC) told the stakeholders that the OPSC was a very good
program that had a high level of success. He said the project involved 17 MDAs. And that
the NEMA provided food for the participants while the NDHQ provided the stipends that
were paid to these participants. He said that the OPSC trained the participants but they
were not the ones who resettled them but they only monitored the resettlement process.
He noted that this project was a good one and this was evidenced by the surrender of
over 1,000 Boko Haram members. He admonished stakeholders to ask questions about
things they don’t know and not resort to saying bad things about the program.
After Responses were taken from Mr Dawodu and the speaker from NHRC the participants
went for health/tea break.
The Stakeholders dialogue resumed at about 1:30pm. There was a presentation on Case
Management Mechanism: A tool for speedy dispensation of the criminal justice system by
Mr. Austin Emumejakpor, UNODC Consultant.
His presentation took a form of questions that the Stakeholder Dialogue should answer.
He spoke about ways to resolve unlawful detention, get speedy trial and also get the
enforcement of the judgement of the courts on the cases.
While speaking he noted that like the Supreme Court had once mentioned in a case, the
issue at hand was to find out what was the solution to the current problem. He also
noted that the problem was the issue of the unlawful detention of Boko Haram suspects
and the unfair treatments that they were getting and the way forward was to find
solutions and not to be shifting blames.
He ended his presentation by asking the participants in the dialogue to put heads
together and bring forth solutions.
After that, there was a presentation by the Legal Aid Council Of Nigeria (LACON) on
Access to Justice and Legal Aid in Cases of Violent Extremism and Terrorism in Nigeria.
The presentation by LACON took the form of an historical briefing of how the LACON has
rendered or tried to render legal aid services to defendants in Boko Haram cases. He
noted that LACON has been able to represent a lot of Defendants. He noted that recently
they sent 4 lawyers to interview and represent 101 defendants in Boko Haram related
cases who were arraigned before courts in Bauchi, Borno and Kano but were later
transferred to the Kirikiri Medium and Maximum correctional facilities in Lagos state.
The presenter noted that some of the challenges that they faced while trying to
represent these defendants included access to the defendants, unavailability of
interpreters to aid communication between the defendants and the lawyers from LACON
as most of the defendants did not understand English language. And sometimes during
court proceedings it was the LACON officials that served as interpreters for the court. On
the issue of access to the defendants he noted that during the trial in Wawa cantonment
in July 2018, they only gained access to the defendants the day before the trial. But that
recently when lawyers from LACON represented defendants in the NCoS custody they got
access to the defendants at least 10 days before they went to court.
Thereafter, Mr. Seyi Arowosebe from Citizens Gavel also made a presentation on Access
to Justice and Legal Aid in Cases of Violent Extremism and Terrorism in Nigeria. While
speaking on behalf of Citizens Gavel, Mr Arowosebe stated that he brought greetings from
Mr Nelson Olanipekun, the Citizens Gavel Team Lead. He noted that access to justice
means justice for all, irrespective of the nature of the offence and whether or not one is
nominal complainant or defendant. He opined that it was high time the law enforcement
agencies adopted technology in the approach to tackling terrorism so that they don’t go
about arresting people arbitrarily in areas where an act of terrorism occurred.
Polygraph/Lie Detector can be introduced while interviewing/interrogating suspects of violent crimes. He also suggested that that there should be the intervention of CSOs to
augment the strength of the LACON in providing pro-bono legal representation to the
defendants in cases of violent extremism and terrorism. There is need to form a cohort of
probono lawyers and train them for the special task of providing legal aid to these special
clients (boko haram suspects). He concluded by stating that access to Justice in this kind
of cases also means to rehabilitate these defendants and really reintegrate them into the
After the last presentation, Mr Sulayman Dawodu gave a wrap of the whole activities of
the whole stakeholders’ dialogue. In his Wrap up he mentioned the recommendations
that had been made by the Stakeholders during the dialogues over the 2-days dialogue.
The recommendations included:
Prompt prosecution of the Boko Haram Related cases by the Federal Ministry of
Justice (FMOJ). The FMOJ should inform the court of its readiness to prosecute
these cases within two weeks from now.
The Court, FMOJ and other necessary stakeholders should consider the use of
technology to conduct virtual hearings in these cases.
The empowerment of the Legal Aid Council of Nigeria and ensuring their access to
the detention facilities, and other CSOs rendering pro bono services to these
defendants should come through the Legal Aid council of Nigeria.
The Nigeria Bar Association especially the branches in Borno, who are always on
ground to render free legal aid to the defendants, should always be granted access
to the detention facilities to offer legal aid to the Defendants.
Adoption of plea bargain in dealing with some of these cases.
The National human Rights Commission should monitor these cases.
Set up a committee comprising of the Heads of LACON, JIC, and other relevant
organisations to visit the AGF, CJN, IGP, NSA and other relevant stakeholders to
inform them of the challenges facing the trial of cases of violent extremism and
Ms Muchenata Mundopa, Project coordinator, UNODC gave the vote of thanks after which
the Stakeholders dialogue was officially closed after performing all its agenda and
achieving all its goals.
This report was collated by Marvellous Monday Esq.