The federal government will soon begin the trial of 5,000 suspected Boko Haram members who are in various detention facilities nationwide.
The Director-General of Legal Aid Council, Mr. Aliyu Abubakar, during a visit to the Borno State Governor, Prof. Babagana Zulum, said yesterday in Maiduguri that the trial would be conducted by the Office of the Attorney-General General of the Federation (AGF), the Office of the National Security Adviser (NSA), in collaboration with the Theatre Command, Operation Lafiya Dole.
Abubakar, who was received by the Borno State Deputy Governor, Alhaji Usman Kadafur, said the Legal Aid Council had been mandated to provide defence for the inmates.
He added that the legal aid team has so far interviewed 283 suspects as part of efforts to establish their involvement in terrorism and understand the nature of the crime they committed.
Abubakar stated that as their defence counsel, the council has to interview the suspects from time to time to enable it to know their own part of the story.
“This is so because regardless of the crimes they have committed, it is possible that out of hundreds, you may find out that one or two persons are innocent.
“It is necessary for them to be represented by this council to make sure that all the requirements of the law are fulfilled. All evidence must be presented against them before the court of law so that those found guilty would be prosecuted. Inasmuch as everybody is aware of the nature of the crime they have committed, under our laws, they are innocent until proven guilty,” he said.
He applauded the leadership of Operation Lafiya Dole for providing the legal team with access to its detention facility to meet and interact with the inmates.
He said the recent changes made in the military leadership was a welcome one as it would ensure progress in the quest to combat insurgency and banditry.
Zulum expressed the government’s readiness to partner with the federal government to enable it to achieve its mandate.
He praised the council for providing legal support to the people of the state, while assuring it of the government’s commitment to support it financially.
He also urged the federal government and other stakeholders to adopt a sustainable plan in the Operation Safe Corridor programme geared towards the rehabilitation of former insurgents.
He, however, said the lack of a proper exit sustainability plan in the programme had hampered its success.