From Monday, October 9, more than 2,300 people accused of belonging to Boko Haram will appear in a series of unseen trials behind closed doors in Nigeria. It is a first since the beginning of the insurrection in 2009. Trials of which little is known and which already raise questions and concerns.
So far in Nigeria, only nine people have been tried and convicted for belonging to Boko Haram. This time, federal justice is able to judge 1,670 people currently detained in the military center of Kainji in the state of Niger, in the northwest of the country.
Of these detainees, 200 should be released and integrated into a “de-radicalization” program, according to a statement by the Minister of Justice to the Nigerian newspaper The Vanguard a few days ago.
Next, 651 people detained in the Giwa camp in Maiduguri, in the northeast, are expected to be tried. Spaces have been set up to judge inside the military detention centers.
In Camera Hearings
But these proceedings are not without a number of questions. Under what conditions will they be held?
Hearings will be held in camera. The authorities would fear the dissemination of sensitive information. We already know that the media will be excluded and that there will be few observers: the ICRC and the American and British embassies have been able to attend.
Some see the result of diplomatic pressure, American and British, in the holding of this trial? Yan St-Pierre, of the Modern Security Consulting Group, is not convinced. For him, the presence of US and British diplomats at the trial is rather a way of finding ” a compromise with the complete absence of media “.
Was it a botched investigation?
Other issues include the credibility and seriousness of investigations of detainees in, particularly dangerous areas. The conditions of their arrest and detention also apply. According to an American specialist quoted by AFP, Matthew Page, most of them have been held incommunicado for years without being able to see either lawyers or judges.
Several Amnesty International reports have pointed in the past to serious shortcomings in the fight against the Boko Haram armed group. In June 2015, in writing, the NGO denounced 20,000 arbitrary arrests and nearly 1,200 summary executions. Immediately after his election in 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari promised to investigate these allegations of human rights violations. At least two commissions have been launched. But last June, the army abandoned pursuing the officers accused by Amnesty International.
Who are the accused?
Among the questions raised, one wonders who these accused are. Are they frames of insurrection or simple combatants?
It’s really mixed, it’s really hard to know if those people were affiliated with Boko Haram, if it’s really high-ranking, if it’s small fry.