OUT OF BOUNDS: Journalists to be barred from trial of Boko Haram suspects

The media will not be allowed to cover proceedings when the proposed trial of over 1,600 Boko Haram suspects commences on October 9.

Agence France-Presse, AFP, an international news agency, quoted an official of the Ministry of Justice as saying this on Friday, noting that the decision was due to security reasons.

According to the source who asked not to be identified, the decision was reached after a meeting between the government and the Department of State Services, DSS.

“There will be no access to the media,” the official said. “The decision was based on the need for confidentiality because of security issues that may come up during the trial.”

The source said the British High Commission, US Embassy in Abuja, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, and the International Red Cross would be given “observer status” during the trial.

“They will be able to monitor how proceedings are carried out and obviously the suspects will be given legal representation,” he added.

The trials will take place simultaneously in military detention facilities in Kainji, Kogi state, New Bussa, in Niger state, and in Maiduguri, the Borno state capital, the birth place of the Boko Haram and which has been the worst-hit since the insurgency.






     

     

    Local and international rights groups have criticised the Nigerian of  arbitrary arrests and detention of suspects without investigation, as well as torturing arrested suspects. The military authorities have consistently denied such allegations.

    Announcing the commencement of the trial of terror suspects last week, the Ministry of Justice explained that the delay in beginning the trials had been due to poor investigation techniques such as lack of forensic evidence, “over-reliance on confession-based evidence” and logistical problems.

    As of September 11, only 13 cases linked to the eight-year insurgency had been concluded, with nine convictions.

    The ban on the media during the hearings may raise further questions of credibility and transparency in the process.

     

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