Governors in Nigeria’s Northeast region on Thursday said there is need for a transfer of prosecutorial right of terrorists to the state governments.
The governors said as it currently stands, the process of prosecuting terrorists which is solely reserved to the Attorney General of the Federation is cumbersome and needs to be amended.
Speaking at the opening of the meeting of the North East Governors’ Forum in Yola, Adamawa state capital, the Chairman of the Forum and Governor of Borno State, Prof. Babagana Zulum said: “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.”
He lamented that: “At the moment, the process is a bit cumbersome as all suspects charged with terrorism and terrorist related offenses 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 anti-terrorism law.”
He said: “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.”
He also said governors in the region need to take far-reaching measures to ensure incidences of house kidnapping as reported in some states, does not extend to the northeast.
Zulum, while acknowledging that the most alarming and worrisome challenge confronting the North East remains the daunting issue of insecurity with the prolonged Boko Haram crisis, said: “There is however absolute need for us to seriously look into how to stimulate and renew the confidence and trust of our people in the ability of our security forces to contain the palpable threats, being posed by the continued presence of the insurgents.
“This is to ensure that our people are adequately protected and sufficiently guaranteed to open up and go about their normal socio-economic and business activities, without fear of being attacked or kidnapped or even forcefully being recruited by the insurgents.”
He lamented that: “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.”
He said: “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.”
He said: “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.”
Zulum who decried that 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, said: “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.
He said: “Unless we regard it as a matter of urgent priority, the phenomenon may escalate, as it is currently happening in some States.”
He said: “Another issue which unquestionably needs to be urgently tackled is the Almajiri phenomenon and its associated challenges which are increasingly having a telling effect on the overall socio-economic development of the society.
“Unless the Almajiri system is completely overhauled along the lines of its original objectives, we may end up having to deal with an army of perhaps untrainable youths who inadvertently become vulnerable to the influence of social misfits like kidnappers and bandits and even terror groups like the Boko Haram insurgents.
“It is a problem common to all of us and it needs both multi-dimensional and individually selective approach, based on the general and specific peculiarities of the system in each State.”
At the meeting include Governors of Borno, Adamawa, Bauchi and Gombe states, Yobe and Taraba states are represented by the Deputy Governors.