Nnamdi Kanu: FG Should Use Secret Trial – Terrorism Act Sponsor

Nnamdi Kanu: Buhari regime should use secret trial, says Terrorism Act sponsor
Nnamdi Kanu and President Muhammadu Buhari

As the trial of the proscribed IPOB leader Nnamdi Kanu resumes today, former chairman of the House Committee on Financial Crimes Kayode Oladele wants President Muhammadu Buhari’s regime to use secret trials in terrorism cases.

He called for a procedure that disallows those charged with terrorist acts using their trials as a propaganda platform.

Mr Kanu’s rearrest was announced on June 27 by Attorney General Abubakar Malami. Mr Kanu was arraigned for terrorism and other crimes at the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court amid tight security on June 29.

Mr Oladele, a legislator in the Eighth Assembly, called for a closed trial of terrorists, advising the federal government to embrace secrecy in terrorism trials, being the model used by several Western nations.

The lawmaker, who authored and co-sponsored the Terrorism Act Amendment Bill of 2013, pointed out that terrorist acts are tantamount to acts of war.

The former lawmaker stated these in a five-page article, ‘Terrorism Trials: An Overview of the Delicate Balance between National Security and Human Rights.’

He explained that “secrecy of terrorism trials, which is another common feature of terrorism trials globally,” could be found in Nigerian law.

Citing Section 31(3) of the 2011 Act, he pointed out that “the court may, on motion by or on behalf of the prosecuting agency, in the interest of public safety or order, exclude from proceedings instituted for any offence under this act, any person other than the parties and their legal representatives.”

Though he admitted that the 2011 Terrorism Act did not create a separate court for the trial of terrorists, Mr Oladele argued that “the jurisdiction is still vested in the Federal High Court, which presumably is expected to use the same procedure used for the prosecution of other criminal cases in terrorism trials, a significant departure from what is obtainable in several other jurisdictions where, in addition to secret trials, separate courts such as military tribunals are usually used for the trial of terrorism cases.”

“Realising that acts of terrorism are tantamount to acts of war, several Western nations including the United States and the United Kingdom not only try most terrorism cases secretly by special tribunals, they also sometimes adopt special procedures,” said the ex-lawmaker to protect national security and public interest.

“In the trial of terrorists, therefore, the focus is mainly about ‘dispensing military justice attendant to a military conflict,’ not necessarily (though important), the protection of the fundamental rights of the terrorists,” he argued.

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