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North-East govs seek power to prosecute Boko Haram suspects

Borno State Governor and chairman, North-East Governors’ Forum, Professor Babagana Zulum, has said that states in the region need prosecutorial fiat from the Federal Government to prosecute suspects charged with terrorism and terrorist-related offences. Speaking yesterday in Jimeta, Yola, Adamawa State at the 3rd meeting of the North-East Governors’ Forum, Zulum said the current process of transferring all suspects charged with terrorism and terroristrelated offences to Abuja for prosecution was a bit cumbersome.

Zulum made the call in his opening remark before the participants, made up of host governor of Adamawa, governors of Bauchi, Gombe and deputy governors of Taraba and Yobe, entered into closed door meeting.

“As we deliberate on the scourge of terrorism and terror groups within the North East, we need to fashion out ways of facilitating the prosecution of those charged with terrorism activities.

At the moment, the process is a bit cumbersome as all suspects charged with terrorism and terrorist related offences have to be transferred to Abuja for prosecution as only the Attorney-General of the Federation has the statutory powers to prosecute terrorists; according to the provisions of antiterrorism law. “So, we need to obtain prosecutorial fiat from the Attorney-General to enable us prosecute those charged with terrorism in our respective states, instead of referring them to Abuja.”

Zulum said governors in the region needed to take far reaching measures to ensure incidences of house kidnapping as reported in some states does not extend to the northeast As you know, the most alarming and worrisome challenge confronting us remains the daunting issue of insecurity, which has been causing excruciating loss of lives and property in the sub region. And the most devastating security challenge is the seemingly unending Boko Haram phenomenon, which has a destructive effect on the socio-economic lives of our people and which has inevitably displaced hundreds of thousands of people from across the North East, but most significantly in Borno State, which is the epicentre of the insurgency. “We must, however, acknowledge the indefatigable efforts of our security forces in containing the insurgency.

It is gratifying to note that they have undoubtedly decimated the power bloc and nerve centre of the insurgents in most of the sub-region, with the exception of a few belligerent remnants, who are confined to Sambisa forest and northern part of Borno State, especially around the Lake Chad area.” He noted that there was need to seriously look into how to stimulate and renew the confidence and trust of the people in the ability of the security forces to contain the palpable threats being posed by the continued presence of the insurgents. “Another frightfully shocking social problem which, unfortunately, is becoming widespread in our sub-region is that of rape.

We must find a way of protecting our women and girls from the intolerable and aggressive demeanour of rapists. “While it is essential to embark on a massive enlightenment campaign on the dangers associated with rape, there is need also to domesticate the Federal law against rape, in our respective states, based on the peculiarities and special circumstances of each state. “On the issue of emergent criminal activities like banditry and kidnapping, the twin scourge is assuming a worrisome dimension in the North East, as it is becoming rampant and widespread. “As a result, inter-state road travel is becoming a virtual impossibility for the people because of the palpable danger of abduction along most of the major roads.

It is, therefore, a matter of strategic imperative for us to give considerable attention to how to deal effectively with the problem and give our people a sense of sufficient and sustainable protection whenever they travel out.”

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