The Federal Government of Nigeria has been vigorously and intensively working to leave no stone unturned in the prosecution of Boko Haram financiers and the fight against terrorism in the country. The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN made this known in an interview with journalists in New York in continuation of the ongoing 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly.
The Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations, Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Dr. Umar Jibrilu Gwandu made this known in a statement issued on Wednesday 22nd September, 2021. Malami said the Federal Government is taking all steps to ensure a peaceful and prosperous Nigeria adding that the Nigerian public will be properly and adequately informed about the investigation and prosecution process at the appropriate milestones as they unfold. According to the statement, “the position, as it stands, is that investigation has reached advanced stage and the Government will make statement in that direction in due course. Time is not ripe for holistic disclosures so as not to pre-empt the investigation process. The prime object remains the attainment of peace and security of our dear nation”.
“As per terrorism funding and financing is concerned, we have succeeded in identifying those that are allegedly responsible for funding same and we are blocking the leakages associated with funding while embarking on aggressive investigation that is indeed impacting positively in terms of the fight against terrorism”
“The truth of the matter is that investigation is ongoing and advancing. For the purpose of investigation I would not like to be pre-emptive in terms of making disclosures that will have effect of undermining the successes we are recording,” Malami said.
“One thing I can tell you for sure is that whatever we do in terms of detention and arrest is indeed backed-up by judicial processes. We have acquired and obtained legitimate court orders taking into consideration the facts and material proof of evidence presented before the court on account of which the court eventually exercises its discretion in terms of granting orders that we can have the suspects in custody pending the conclusion of the investigation,” he reaffirmed.
The Federal Government through the Complex Case Group of the Department of Public Prosecution of the Federation in the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice reviewed that over one thousand Boko Haram Case files out of which 285 have been filed before the Federal High Court based on prima facie cases of terrorism against them.
The delay witnessed in prosecution process was occasioned by COVID-19 lockdown, Judiciary Staff Union (JUSUN) Strike and court vacation. Naming and shaming of suspects is not embarked upon as a policy by the federal Government out of sheer respect to the constitutional rights of Nigerians relating to presumption of innocence. It is a product of constitutionalism and the law. It is rooted in the law and the names of the suspects will accordingly be made public at the point of judicial arraignment while the shaming remains a consequence of judicial conviction. Trials are judicial process and not about media sensations.
Naming and shaming in the Nigerian context must be rooted in constitutionalism. We must strike a balance between constitutional presumption of innocence and evidential proof of reasonable ground for suspicion in making disclosures associated with terrorism funding and financing. Where reasonable grounds are established, suspects must be naturally taken to court at which point their identity must be disclosed and the naming become apparent. Shaming, on the other hand, is the product of conviction at which point the public are equally judicially put on noticed.
In essence naming and shaming within the context of Nigerian law are judicial functions which commence with arraignment and terminate with convictions. Naming and shaming is not unguided and unregulated process. It is not like a discarded ship left at the mercy of winds and tides.