Law News
Defects in law not responsible for rise in terrorism — Raji, SAN

Mr. Ahmed Raji, SAN, has said that the rise in acts of terrorism in Nigeria cannot be attributed to defects in the laws of the country.

In a paper he delivered at the just concluded annual general conference of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, in Owerri, he said that the Terrorism Prevention Act, TPA, which according to him was Nigeria’s principal tool in prosecuting terrorism emphasizes respect for the fundamental rights of suspects or accused persons.

He said that before an individual may be detained for investigation purposes for a period in excess of the constitutionally permitted time, the investigating body must seek and obtain an order of the Federal High Court.

He added that since inception of the TPA 2011, the law has been employed to prosecute at least 40 cases out of which judgments had been delivered in about 15.

This according to him was remarkable because criminal trials in Nigeria are reputed to last for over five years.

“In spite of these achievements, it cannot be said that the law has been effective in checking the menace of terrorism (or serving as a deterrent) given the fact that the acts of terrorism have been on a steady rise in Nigeria but this failure is not attributable to defects in the law,” Raji said.

The fundamental problem facing the prosecution of crimes in Nigeria especially terrorism, according to him is a lack of proper record keeping, statistics and data collection. “This includes but not limited to records of births, certificates and registration.

“We must have a correct diagnosis for there to be an effective solution. Until the cause is known, I am afraid we are in the woods.

“The law may be used as an instrument to discourage act of terrorism. The law may be used in a way that it would give us a justice sector that is able to quickly and promptly attend to any terrorism issue. The law may be used if we know the root cause of terrorism, to address the root cause. If it is due to poverty, the law may be used to redistribute wealth,” he said.

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