Trials of Boko Haram suspects in Nigeria will take place behind closed doors with no media present on security grounds, the government and Department of State Services intelligence agency agreed on Friday.
The justice ministry announced last week that the trials of more than 1,600 suspects were scheduled to begin from October 9. It blamed delays in prosecution on poor investigation techniques such as lack of forensic evidence, “over-reliance on confession-based evidence” and logistical problems.
Human rights groups have criticised Nigeria’s military for the arbitrary arrest of civilians and detention of suspects for lengthy periods of time without access to legal counsel. The announcement that due process was finally to begin was given a cautious welcome but a ban on media access will likely raise concerns about transparency.
According to Vanguard, British High Commission and US Embassy in Abuja, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime and the International Red Cross would be given “observer status”, therefore will be able to monitor how proceedings are carried out and obviously the suspects will be given legal representation.
The trials will take place in military detention facilities in Kainji, Kogi state, and New Bussa, in Niger state.