By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA—The Abuja Division of the Federal High Court, yesterday, gave the Department of State Service, DSS, the nod to retain 400 Boko Haram suspects in its custody for 90 days.
The suspects are to be kept at a detention camp at Kainji, Niger State till April 10 when they they will be docked for terrorism related offences.
Justice Babatunde Quadri granted the remand order after he heard an ex-parte application the DSS filed through its lawyer, Geraldine Okafor.
The security agency told the court that it had yet to conclude investigation into trans-border terrorism offences that were allegedly committed by the 400 suspects.
It told the court that though the suspects were arrested about five years ago, investigation could not be completed because the alleged terrorism offence involved other countries like Niger, Chad and Cameroon.
Although the suspects were originally billed to take their plea before the court yesterday, however, DSS said nvolvement of other countries in the matter had warranted the setting up of a joint task force comprising representatives from Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon.
DSS lawyer told the court that aside Nigeria, the other three countries were also involved in the investigation process that led to arrest of the suspects.
Meantime, before he granted the order, Justice Quadri expressed his displeasure over the slow pace of the investigation which he noted had lasted over five years.
The Judge said he was worried that the suspects had been in detention for a long period of time, adding that the investigations ought to have been completed and charges filed against them in accordance with the law.
Justice Quadri said he was also perturbed that the world is watching Nigeria with regards to prolonged detention of the suspects, saying the Federal High Court would not allow itself to be used to perpetuate acts that are against the provisions of the constitution.
The court recalled that it had in 2017 granted a similar request for 90 days remand order against the same set of suspects, even as it urged DSS to expedite the investigation process as it would not grant such application in future.
Meantime, the court has ordered the defence headquarters to produce four Boko Haram suspects- Mohammed Goni, Mohammed Maaji, Umar Ladan and Abubakar Musa- before it on April 10 for their formal trial.
DSS told the court that the quartet who were billed to appear for trial on Tuesday were not released by the defence headquarters for undisclosed reasons, despite a letter it said was written to the effect by the Director of Public Prosecutions of the Federation.
Justice Quadri ordered that the suspects should be produced before the court unfailingly on the next adjourned date.