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Foundation calls for review of counter insurgency legislation

Cleen Foundation, a non-governmental organisation, has called for an urgent review of the nations ‘counter-insurgency laws to address insurgency, especially in the north-eastern part of the country.

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File: Cameroonian soldiers patrol on November 12, 2014 in Amchide, northern Cameroon, 1 km from Nigeria. The city was raided by Islamists from Nigeria’s Boko Haram, killing eight cameroonian soldiers and leading the population to flee on October 15, 2014, before another six coordinated attacks that killed at least three civilians in the remote north of the country, on November 9, 2014. Boko Haram’s five-year insurgency in neighboring Nigeria has left thousands dead, and the Islamists have occasionally carried out attacks over the border. Cameroon has deployed more than 1,000 soldiers in the extreme northeast of the country to counter the Islamist threat. AFP PHOTO

Mr Chigozirim Okoro, Assistant Program Manager, Public Safety and Security Department in the foundation, made the appeal in a statement on Thursday in Abuja.

Okoro said that in working to promote public safety and human rights, there is a need for the government to review the laws addressing insurgency which could not be overemphasised.

He said that the appeal was coming as a result of its survey findings on human rights violations in countering violent extremism in Nigeria.

“The state counter-insurgency approach in the fight against the Boko Haram terrorist group has contributed to huge human rights violation in communities where attacks are taking place.

“In line with addressing these survey findings, we have produced a policy brief that will be presented to the public’’, he said.

He said that the foundation found out that there was a great distrust among the security agencies involved in combating terrorism in Nigeria and the citizens which hindered intelligence gathering needed to nip the menace in the bud.

Also read: FG canvasses efficient administration of criminal justice

Okoro noted that the impact of human right abuses on the citizens within the communities engulfed in the insurgency war had created fear among citizens.

This, he said, had led to a gap in information gathering, especially among the abused and the relevant agencies that could save or salvage the situation.

“The situation is made worst with a criminal justice system that poses a serious challenge to the administration of criminal justice.

“This accounts for why terrorism-related cases linger and sometimes, terrorists evade justice due to faulty prosecution on the part of the police and other agencies’’, he said.

Okoro appealed for a review of the Armed Forces Act to show the parameters of military engagement in internal security disturbances particularly given the expanded functions.

He said that the Nigeria Police, Department of State Service and Nigerian Civil Defence, should be adequately empowered to manage internal security.

According to him, the Nigerian government should prioritise local content in counter-terrorism efforts by re-organising its criminal justice system to permit for the creation of effective community policing to enhance intelligence gathering.

He also said the government should establish special courts to try terrorism-related cases in all the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory.

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