The Joint Investigation Team set up by the Defence Headquarters (DHQ) has recommended the immediate prosecution of over 500 suspects apprehended in the course of security operations against terrorists. The suspects were apprehended in Yobe, Borno and Adamawa States.
According to a statement issued on Wednesday in Abuja and signed by Brig.-Gen. Chris Olukolade, Director of Defence Information, the suspects were also among the almost 1,400 detainees screened by the team at the detention facilities in Maiduguri, Yola and Damaturu between July and September.
It said those recommended for immediate trial included high profile suspects, some of whom were training other terrorists in weapon handling as well as those who confessed to being trained in Mali and other countries for the purpose of perpetrating terror in Nigeria.
“Also among those recommended for trial are a medical doctor, paramilitary or service personnel who were fighting on the side of the terrorists and other individuals who offered direct logistics support to the terrorists.”
The statement said that the team, however, recommended the release of 167 of the detainees from detention in Maiduguri, Yola and Damaturu, while about 614 others whose cases were inconclusive had been recommended for review.
The report also proposed that some of the detainees be tried for other offences ranging from armed robbery, murder to drugs related offences.
”If the recommendation of the team sails through, the trial of some of the suspects will be held in the states while others may be tried at the Federal level by High Courts,” it said.
The statement said the team was tasked to examine, classify and recommend appropriate actions against detainees in the various detention centres in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states
Receiving the reports at the Defence Headquarters, the Chief of Defence Staff, Admiral Ola Ibrahim, commended the team for being thorough in conducting the assignment.
He assured them that the recommendations would be treated with dispatch after due consultations with appropriate authorities.
Ibrahim said that the military authorities would continue to ensure that due process and highest professional standards were followed in managing the security operations in the states covered by the State of Emergency.
He said that the DHQ was committed to necessary steps that would ensure justice and fair play.
The CDS said that the report had since been forwarded to the Presidency through the office of National Security Adviser (NSA).
Meanwhile, the NSA is already in consultation with the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) on subsequent litigation procedures following consideration of recommendations in the report.
It will be recalled that the Defence Headquarters in July 2013, set up a 19-member Joint Investigation Team of senior officers to screen and categorise detainees apprehended in the course of operations in the North East.
The measure, meant to decongest the detention facilities in the area of operations, was also to ensure that necessary processes were put in place to guarantee expeditious prosecution of suspects in the fight against terror.
The team comprises military, police, officials of Federal and State Ministries of Justice as well as Immigration, Prisons and Customs officers.