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Court extends detention of 400 Boko Haram suspects for 90 days

The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja on Tuesday extended the detention of 400 Boko Haram suspects in Kainji facility for another 90 days.

The extension followed the exparte party application filed by the Department of State Services (DSS). The department which ought to have arraigned the 400 Boko Haram suspects on Tuesday said that investigations of their cases have not been concluded.

The 400 suspects were taken into custody about five years. While trial of others took place late last year the DSS said it wants the 400 suspects to remain in the Kainji custody till April 10, 2018, when investigation of their cases are expected to be concluded.

Justice Babatunde Quadri granted the request after hearing Geraldine Okafor counsel to DSS who argued that investigation on the terrorism offence allegedly committed by the suspects cut across four countries.

Okafor submitted that although the suspects were arrested about five years ago, investigation could not be completed because the alleged terrorism offence affected Niger, Chad and Cameroon.

He said that a joint task force has just been put in place by authorities in Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon to hasten the trans-border terrorism investigation. He assured the court that the suspects will be arraigned.

Although Justice Quadri was not satisfied with the slow pace of investigation, he conceded to the DSS request on the ground that the joint task force of the four countries will ensure conclusion of investigation before April 10.

However, the Judge expressed concern that the suspects had been in detention for five years, yet investigation into their alleged offence which ought to have been completed and the suspects arraigned in line with the provisions of the law.

Justice Quadri said that the international Community is watching Nigeria’s handling of the detained suspects, adding that the Federal High Court will not allow itself to be used to perpetuate acts that are against the provisions of the Constitution.

The Judge therefore challenged the DSS to be alive to its responsibilities on the issue of detained persons so as not to run counter to the provisions of taw.

The judge recalled that in 2017, it granted the same request for the 90 day detention of the suspects adding that inspite of the nature of the alleged offence, the court will be conscious in granting similar request on future.

Meanwhile, the court has ordered defence headquarters to produce four other Boko Haram suspects before it on April 10 to face their trial.

The four suspects: Mohammed Goni, Mohammed Maaji, Umar Ladan and Abubakar Musa were to appear in court in continuation of their trial but were conspicuously absent.

Prosecution counsel, Geraldine Okafor told the court that the suspects could not be produced by the defence headquarters for undisclosed reasons.

The counsel told the court that the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) of the federation wrote the defence headquarters to produce the defendants on court, but the defence headquarters did not act.

She then pleaded with the court to give the defence headquarters another opportunity to do the needful.

However the legal aids counsel represented by Samson Adula pleaded with the court for an order to move the suspects from Kainji detention camp to the DSS facility in the interest of justice and to enable them have easy access to court for their trial.

The counsel said the four Boko Haram suspects have been languishing in detention for over six years without trial.

In his brief ruling, Justice Quadri agreed with the Legal Aids Council that the prosecution should not allow the suspect to languish in detention, but declined to transfer the suspects. He said ordered that the four defendants be brought unfailingly to court on April 10, 2018 for continuation of their trial.

Andrew Orolua, Abuja

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