Justice Babatunde Quadri of the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, on Tuesday allowed the Department of State Services (DSS) to detain 400 suspected members of the dreaded Boko Haram for another 90 days at the Kainji detention camp in Niger state.
The suspects, who have been in DSS custody since they were arrested, about five years ago, are to remain in the Kainji custody till April 10, 2018, when the terrorism charges preferred against them by the Federal Government will come up in the court.
The trial Judge granted the request brought by DSS through an ex -parte motion argued by its counsel, Geraldine Okafor on the ground that investigation into the alleged terrorism offenses against the suspects has not been concluded.
Geraldine had, in the ex -parte motion submitted that although the suspects were arrested about five years ago, the investigation could not be completed because the alleged terrorism offense involved other countries like Niger, Chad, and Cameroon.
Although the suspects were billed to be arraigned yesterday, Okafor informed the court that investigation into the matter involved three foreign countries – Niger, Chad, and Cameroon and that a joint task force has just been put in place by authorities in Nigeria and those of the three countries to ensure early completion of investigation into the trans-border terrorism offence and assured that the joint task force of the four countries will ensure conclusion of investigation before April 10.
Justice Quadri, while granting the request for the additional 90 days to detain the suspects expressed worry that the suspects had been in detention for over five years and that investigation into the alleged offense against them ought to have been completed and the suspects arraigned, in line with the position of the law.
The Judge, therefore, charged the DSS to be alive to its responsibilities on the issue of the detained persons to avoid going contrary to the law.
The court recalled that in 2017, it granted the same request for the 90-day detention of the suspects adding that in spite of the nature of the alleged offense, the court will be conscious in granting similar request in the future and
Meanwhile, the court has ordered the Defence Headquarters to produce four Boko Haram suspects before it on April 10, 2018, to commence their trial.
The trial of the four suspects, Mohammed Goni, Mohammed Maaji, Umar Ladan and Abubakar Musa was to commence yesterday, but the prosecution counsel, Geraldine Okafor told the court that the suspects could not be produced by the Defence Headquarters for undisclosed reasons.
The counsel informed the court that the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) of the federation wrote the Defence Headquarters to produce the defendants in court, but the Defence Headquarters did not act accordingly.
She then pleaded with the court to give the Defence Headquarters another opportunity to do the needful.
However, the Legal Aids Council, represented by Samson Adula pleaded with the court for an order to move the suspects from Kainji detention camp to the DSS facility in the interest of justice and to enable them to have easy access to court for their trial.
The counsel lamented that the four Boko Haram suspects have been languishing in detention for over six years without trial.
In a brief ruling, Justice Quadri agreed with the Legal Aids Council and ordered that the four defendants be brought before him before him on April 10, 2018 for continuation of their trial.