Opinion

Time to halt killing of unarmed citizens by terrorists, criminal gangs

Femi Falana SAN

Since the Boko Haram war began 12 years ago, terrorists have  attacked the United Nations Headquarters Office in Abuja, Nigeria Police Force Headquarters in Abuja as well as Police Stations and Correctional Centres in some States. Apart from the destructiion of public property the terrorists killed scores of people and injured many others during the violent attacks. But as the criminal gangs who carried out the dastardly acts were not apprehended and prosecuted they have become emboldened to the extent of attacking military institutions. The Alliance on Surviving Covid 19 and Beyond (ASCAB)  strongly condemns the last week invasion of the Nigerian Defence Academy in Kaduna, the brutal killing of two officers and the abduction of another officer by a group of terrorists. By attacking the military institution,  the dangerous criminal elements had wanted to prove that no where is safe in Nigeria. To prove the criminals wrong the Federal Government should ensure the immediate release of the abducted officer and proceed to arrest the criminal elements who committed the heinous crimes. 

No doubt, it is the responsibility of the Government to secure the life and property of every person in Nigeria. But since the Government has failed to discharge its constitutional responsibility of  protecting the people a number of parents have been compelled to negotiate with terrorists and pay ransom running to hundreds of millions of Naira to secure the release of their abducted children. The Federal Government should end the shameful practice by adopting adequate measures to secure the unconditional release of students and other victims who are still languishing in the illegal custody of the criminal gangs. Since some well known civilians regularly negotiate on behalf of the terrorists the Government should have no difficulty in locating the hideout of the dangerous criminal elements. The government  should immediately take control of the monopoly of violence from criminal gangs in order to end the abduction of citizens by terrorists.

However, ASCAB is sad to note that the Federal Government has refused to prosecute the sponsors of terrorists who were recently arrested and interrogated by the State Security Service. In particular, the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation announced in April this year that arrangements had been concluded for the arraignment of 400 sponsors of terrorists and 800 terror suspects at the Federal High Court.  But for reasons best known to the Federal Government the arrested sponsors of terrorism and terror suspects have not been charged with terrorism and allied offences before any Court. Other sponsors of terrorism including a few traditional rulers indicted by some state governments have not been brought to book for their alleged involvement in the nefarious enterprise. 

In the same vein, majority of criminal elements arrested for taking part in kidnapping, armed robbery and extrajudicial killing of unarmed citizens in all the States of the Federation have not been prosecuted by the attorneys-general of the respective states. It is such official impunity that has accentuated the violent attacks on innocent people by the so called bandits and unknown gunmen. In many instances, the suspects were arrested and paraded by the police and other law enforcement agencies but released to continue their criminal activities. For instance, the police and the army have arrested members of the criminal gang that recently killed  22  travellers in Jos, Plateau State. But up till now the suspects have not been charged with conspiracy and culpable homicide before the High Court of Plateau State. 

ASCAB recalls that sometime in 2016, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami SAN,  gave fiat to each State Attorney-General to prosecute all criminal suspects who commit federal offences in all the States of the Federation.  It is on record that the State Attorneys-General have not deemed it fit to prosecute the several criminal suspects arrested, detained and paraded by the pollice for terrorism and illegal possession of firearms including AK 47 rifles. In order  to end such negligence of duty in the interest of law and order in the country ASCAB is compelled to call on the Nigerian people to mount sufficient pressure on the federal and state attorney -general  to charge all  suspects indicted for terrorism, culpable homicide, kidnapping, armed robbery and other violent crimes before appropriate courts. 

Femi Falana SAN is the Interim Chair,
Alliance on Surviving Covid 19 and Beyond 
(ASCAB)

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