Sunday, August 14, 2011

Judges scared to try Boko Haram suspects — Investigations

Chief Judge of the Federation, Aloysius Katsina-Alu
Facts have emerged that the Federal Government’s apparent unwillingness to put Boko Haram suspects on trial is as a result of apprehension among judges, SUNDAY PUNCH has gathered.

Security sources disclosed to our correspondents that efforts made to arraign some of the arrested suspects had failed following the refusal of judges to preside over their trials.

The judges fear that they and their families may become targets of attacks by members of the sect if they appear before their courts.

Over 200 members of the sect have been arrested in different parts of the country for offences ranging from planting of explosives, jail breaks, attack against security agents to disturbance of public peace.
One of the highly placed sources said the judges initially claimed that the suspects could not be prosecuted because Nigeria had no terrorism laws.

He said, “When we arrested the first batch of Boko Haram members last year, the judges openly told us that they could not accept the cases because we didn’t have terrorism laws.”
The source further said that even after President Goodluck Jonathan signed the anti-terrorism bill into law, the judiciary was still reluctant to handle such cases.

He added, “We thought the anti-terrorism law would make a way for the prosecution of the Boko Haram suspects but the judges did not budge after the passage of the bill. It was then we realised that they are all afraid.”

On June 6, 2011, the president signed the Terrorism (Prevention) Act 2011 which establishes measures for the prevention, prohibition and combating of acts of terrorism and the financing of terrorism.

The reluctance of the judiciary to accept Boko Haram cases after the signing of the Terrorism Bill into law has been deduced as one of the reasons the FG set up a committee to negotiate with the sect.

On July 29, the FG announced the establishment of a Presidential Committee on Security Challenges in the North-East of the country. One of the committee’s terms of reference is to “initiate negotiations” with the Boko Haram.

Recently, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, complained that the FG was giving preferential treatment to members of the Boko Haram.

The militant group expressed dissatisfaction and said the government was ‘displaying double standards” because the Boko Haram members arrested in connection with the recent bombing of the police headquarters in Abuja were not prosecuted.

The Chief Registrar of the Federal High Court, Mr. Ayo Nath-Emmanuel, however said it was not true that judges were afraid of the Boko Haram sect.

The CR who spoke to our correspondent in a telephone interview on Friday said, “I don’t think it’s true. The security agents should be able to prove it. Let them provide the charge sheets of the cases they brought to court that we rejected.

“I am not aware of any criminal matter that was brought before the Federal High Court and was turned down. It is not true. I even know of two Boko Haram cases before the court. No judge has the right to reject cases because he is afraid.”

The Force Police Public Relations Officer, Mr. Shola Amore, told SUNDAY PUNCH that he could not make any statement on the Boko Haram cases because the Deputy Inspector-General in charge of the cases was not available.

Amore said, “The DIG is not around. When he comes back, I will be able to tell you the situation of the Boko Haram cases.”

Meanwhile, security agencies have placed no less than 10 fundamentalist sects under watch in an effort to curtail the rise of terrorism in the Northern part of the country.

The move is to prevent more fundamentalist groups from joining the violent campaign launched by the Boko Haram fundamentalist sect.

Security sources told our correspondent that the public declaration by another sect, Akhwat Akwop, to avenge the killings of Christians in the North and unleash attacks on selected targets in cities with majority Muslim population confirmed fears that the Boko Haram was just one of the many groups that threatened the stability of the nation.

Shortly after the Akhwat Akwop made this pronouncement, the Chief of Defence Staff, Air Chief Marshal Oluseyi Petinrin, warned terrorists and radical sects to leave Nigeria as there would be no hiding place for them henceforth.

The CDS said, “Terrorism is alien to Nigeria and government forces are ready to give the terrorists a big blow.”

Amore told SUNDAY PUNCH that the police were being proactive about the situation. He said, “Don’t forget that we have our intelligence that gathers information about the sects to forestall future danger. Apart from forestalling, we also have enough men on ground that are ready to respond to distress calls when called upon in any part of the country.”

Some of the sects under scrutiny include the Shitte Movement, the Taliban, Jalawa, Hijrah, Darul Salam, Karangiya, and Kalo Kato.

ZARIA: Shitte Movement

Est. membership: 2.5m

Though originally formed to be non-violent, the group led by Sheikh Ibrahim Yakub El-Zakzaky later became renowned for its confrontation with military juntas in the country in reality with its abhorrence to military and dictatorial civilian governments. It has about 2.5m adherents scattered nationwide, with a strong presence in the northern parts. They are more prominent in Zaria (its headquarters), Kaduna, Bauchi, Kano and Borno axis.


Est. membership: 200,000

This sect is believed to have either melted or transformed into what is now known as the Boko Haram. It’s members spread across some major northern states and recruits into this sect are mainly university undergraduates between the ages of 20 and 30.

KANO: Jalawa

Est. membership: 50,000

This sect is said to be opposed to most of the concepts in the teachings of Islam. Formed as a non-violent group, SUNDAY PUNCH learnt that as a result of the intense pressure and hatred towards them, the group later embraced violence as a defensive mechanism.

Their mode of operation, our correspondent gathered, was to push their women and children forward to carry out deadly attacks.

YOBE: Hijrah

Est. membership: 100,000

This sect has its roots in Yobe State, but has spread as far as Maiduguri, Kano, Katsina and Jigawa states. It is a collection of Islamic fundamentalists whose main belief is that Armageddon (end time) is near.

NIGER: Darul Salam

Est. membership: 3,000

This sect was based in Mokwa, Niger State before its members were sacked from their settlement sometime in late 2009. Though the group has not exhibited any trace of violence, the fact that they live in isolation has raised fears in the communities where they reside.

Akhwat Akwop

Est. membership: Unknown

The group came into the consciousness of Nigerians a month ago after it threatened to avenge the death of Christians in the North who were at the receiving end of the Boko Haram.

KANO: Karangiya

Est. membership: 2,000

The members of this sect are said to be followers of Sheikh Ibrahim El Zakzaky. They are however a splinter group that do not practise Shiiteism, as done by El Zakzaky’s followers. The sect subscribes to Sunni doctrines. The originator of the splinter sect is the late Mallam Abubakar Technical.

Kala Kato

Est. membership: Unknown

This sect opposes the West and its culture. It also detests Islamic adherents who patronise products of the West. The spread of the group cuts across most parts of the North where they still exist till date and the faithful have continued to spread the ideals of their late founder and leader.

Jamaatul Tajdildi Islam

Est. membership: Unknown

This group was formerly known as Moslem Brothers. It was created far back in 1978 under the leadership of Sheikh Ibrahim Yakub El-Zakzaky.

It draws its membership from 18 northern states with the exception of Benue. The sect has no history of being antagonistic to anyone or religion.


Est. membership: 8m

With the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in Northern Nigeria, especially since 1999, one group that has become a tool for perpetrating non-state terrorism and violence is the Almajiri (street urchins). Even though it cannot be described as a sect, security agents believe that the Almajiri systems possess a growing potential for terrorism.

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