Secret Trials for Boko haram suspects draws criticism

The trial of more than 1,600 people suspected of ties with Boko Haram was expected to begin in Nigeria on Monday behind closed doors, in the biggest legal investigation into the eight-year militant Islamist insurgency. Nigeria’s ministry of justice said last month the trial of around 1,670 people held at the Kainji detention facility would begin at the site, in the central Niger state, on Monday and would be presided over by four judges. The ministry has said that after the Kainji trials are completed, a further 651 people suspected of having links to Boko Haram and currently being held at prisons in Maiduguri, the capital of the northeastern state of Borno, would go on trial.

Clement Nwankwo, a human rights lawyer based in the capital, Abuja, said the trials would provide a more effective deterrent if they were open to the media and public. he made this claim  from his office saying that stories on Boko haram issues  need to be told for the public to be made aware what has been going on and understand the nature of the crimes committed,” said Nwankwo, adding that secrecy also made it hard to determine whether trials were fair.

“The Nigerian authorities have not been known to be diligent in investigating and properly prosecuting suspects,” he said, warning that a sense of injustice could breed resentment among relatives that could yield future radicalization. However a top member of the previous administrations counter extremism program Fatima Akilu countered this saying that the secret approach to the trials was employed to for the safety and protection of the identities of the judges and witnesses involved in the case given that Nigeria does not have an effective witness protection program

More than 20,000 people have been killed and 2 million forced from their homes in northeastern Nigeria during the insurgency, contributing to what the United Nations has said is among the world’s worst humanitarian crises.

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