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Nigeria should not be turned into a terrorist haven – HRM

The Human Rights Monitor, HRM, on its part  said security agencies “spirited” five of the suspects into an Abuja Magistrate court to legitimize their detention instead of ensuring speedy trials adding that accused persons must be presumed innocent until proved guilty.

Executive Director of the HRM, Mr. Festus Okoye speaking in Kaduna said “On the 21st day of October 2010, the State Security Service (SSS) arraigned five suspects before an Abuja Chief Magistrate Court presided over by Oyebola Oyewumi. Three of the suspects had been arraigned on the 8th day of October 2010.

“HRM is concerned and worried at the secrecy surrounding the arraignment of the suspects before the said Chief Magistrate Court in Abuja.

“HRM is also concerned and worried that lawyers for the suspects, their associates and the media were all excluded from the proceedings. The lawyers for the accused persons were also barred from representing and or seeing any of the suspects.

“HRM gathered that the security agencies only spirited the suspects to court to obtain an order to legalize and legitimize their continued detention without trial and not necessarily for the purposes of commencing the trial of the suspects.

“HRM condemned and will continue to condemn the use of force and terror to press home any form of grievance rather than the use of the legitimate and democratically recognized constitutional and legal means.

“HRM commiserated and still commiserates with the families of the deceased and wish those in hospital with various degrees of injury quick recovery. It is unfortunate that some of them paid the supreme prize while celebrating the 50th anniversary of Nigeria’s independence.

“HRM does not and will not support the deliberate, illegal and unconstitutional abridgement of the constitutional presumption of innocence for the suspects arrested on account of the said October 1, 2010 bomb blast through the illegal, secret and unconstitutional procurement of a Court Order to legitimize their continued detention beyond the constitutionally prescribed period.

“The security agencies are aware that every person suspected of infringement of the law enjoys the presumption of innocence no matter how heinous the crime the person is suspected of having committed.

The person is also entitled to his or due process rights including to be represented by a Counsel of his choice and to be taken to Court within a constitutionally prescribed period.

“It is unfortunate that a Chief Magistrate agreed to proceed with a matter and issued orders of fresh remand knowing that the due process rights of the suspects had already been abridged and the Counsel to the suspects had been denied access to the Court.

“The Presiding Chief Magistrate Oyebola Oyewumi and other chief magistrates in the Federal Capital Territory must ensure that Nigeria remains a country based on the rule of law and due process and that the presumption of innocence inures to every suspect and every accused person.

“The National Assembly and the Attorney General of the Federation should ensure that the Anti_Terrorism Bill is speedily passed to enable Nigerian and Nigerians proceed speedily against those who may want to turn Nigeria into a terrorist haven.”


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