The Honourable Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN has advocated for strong cross- border cooperation to make sure that law enforcement officials in Africa in collaboration with their counterparts in the prison services are well equipped to fight terrorist attacks through the gathering of adequate intelligence.
The HAGF made this suggestion at the opening ceremony of the Regional Workshop on Prison Intelligence in a Counter Terrorism Context, implemented by the International Institute for Justice and Rule of Law (IIJ) in Partnership with the Governments of Nigeria and United States of America, holding on Monday April 9, 2018 at Transcorp Hilton Abuja.
Abubakar Malami, represented by the Director, Public Prosecution of the Federation, Mohammed Etsu Umar, expressing commitment to the objectives of IIJ on prison intelligence said, “one of my major focus as the Minister of Justice is the reform of Nigeria Prisons in line with the objective of International Institute of Justice and Rule of Law (IIJ)”. “We have commenced concerted efforts to address the problem of infrastructures as well as awaiting trial prisoners across the Country. The Federal Government is also investing in new technologies that will enhance intelligence gathering, information exchange and management of prison data in the Country”,he added.
The HAGF disclosed that his office had taken many initiatives among which is the setting up of a robust Complex Case Group in the Department of Public Prosecution to handle expeditious prosecution of terrorism and other complex cases.
He said that the Judiciary had also taken the initiative to set up mobile courts nearer to the Prisons and to the victims. “These courts deal specifically with terrorist cases with a view to adjudicating these cases expeditiously. The non-convicted suspects are currently going through de-radicalization programme under the Office of the National Security Adviser”, he explained.
The HAGF expressed appreciation to the leadership of IIJ, the Governments of the United States, Germany, United Kingdom, Switzerland, the European Union and other development partners for their support to the justice sector reform over the years.
Thomas Wuchte, the Executive Director, International Institute for Justice and Rule of Law (IIJ), European Country of Malta, in his opening remarks, noted the fact that inmates are increasingly getting involved in extreme terrorism and radicalization while in detention. He was of the view that the end product of the workshop would get Governments put in place measures to checkmate or prevent all manners of terrorism and radicalization of inmates.
Mr. Wuchte said that IIJ was interested in the way individual countries are handling the issue at front burner and would visit Kuje Prison in Abuja, Nigeria before the end of the workshop to obtain firsthand information about the conditions of the inmates.
Earlier, Comptroller General of Prisons Service Ja’afaru Ahmed, represented by the Assistant Comptroller General of Prison, (Planning, Research and statistics) Suraj Olarinde expressed that violent terrorism poses serious threat to social cohesion and economic development of human race. He maintained that it was on realizing that Military hardware alone cannot counter terrorism that Federal government developed counter Terrorism strategy to counter the ideologically based insurgency. He was optimistic that by the involvement of Nigeria Prison Service in the de-radicalization process, it would go a long way in resolving insurgency in the Country.
The essence of the workshop amongst others was to explain the importance of setting up an effective prison intelligence system in preventing or detecting radicalization to violence within prisons.
Participants at the workshop were drawn from African countries namely; Republics of Nigeria, Chad, Benin, Cameroon, Niger, Mali, Senegal, Togo. Others are; Kenya, Uganda, Djibouti, Mauritania and Tanzania.
Aguocha O. Natty
For: Deputy Director