Distinguished guests, it gives me the highest pleasure to welcome you all to the Policy Brief Dissemination on Counter-Terrorism Legislation in Nigeria. I want to express my profound appreciation to everyone here seated for honouring us with your presence in spite of your very busy schedules. I am also delighted to see in our midst representatives of the National Human Rights Commission and security agencies who have partnered with the CLEEN Foundation to improve inter-agency collaboration and respect for human rights in countering violent extremism in Nigeria. To the policy brief consultants here today, I say thank you for working assiduously and closely with CLEEN Foundation for the review and production of five policy briefs on counter-insurgency legislation in Nigeria.
CLEEN Foundation is a non-governmental organisation established in January 1998 with the mission of promoting public safety, security and accessible justice through the strategies of empirical research, legislative advocacy, demonstration programmes and publications, in partnership with government, civil society and the private sector.
In furtherance to its public safety and security initiatives, CLEEN Foundation, with support from the Open Society Foundations, is implementing a project targeting at improving security sector accountability and human rights compliance in countering violent extremism in Nigeria.
In a bid to address the violent extremism and terrorism in Nigeria, the former administration of President Goodluck Jonathan enacted various counter- terrorism legislation beginning with the Terrorism Prevention Act (2011, amended 2013) and various other key policies and strategies. In 2014, the National Counter Terrorism Strategy (NACTEST) was developed. This strategy was revised in 2016 to address some notable gaps inherent in the former document. One of the work streams of NACTEST is to identify. Central to this stream is to ensure an increase in the capabilities of security agencies to detect, prevent, investigate and prosecute terrorism offenders. Nevertheless, these laws, policies and strategies have their obvious shortcomings.
For instance, aspects of the Terrorism Prevention Act (2013, as amended) directly contravene fundamental human rights standards and principles whereas Nigeria is signatory to the Convention Against Torture (CAT) and its Optional Protocol that seeks to prevent torture and other cruel inhuman treatments. Since its ratification, the country has not domesticated the instrument, and police brutality continues to occur in the course of administering justice to perceived offenders. Section 1(2) of the amended Act explicitly states the maximum penalty of death sentence for anybody who has aided directly or indirectly acts of terrorism.
Further, the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJ), 2015 with innovations to significantly alter the administration of criminal justice in Nigeria were later passed. This Act which merges the Penal Code (operational in the north) and the Criminal Code (applied in the south) also states clear modalities under which people can be arrested and tried for various offences. However, two years after its passage, most states are yet to domesticate the law while rights violations of those in detentions have continued unabated.
The draft National Policy Framework and Action Plan on Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism Strategy (launched in July, 2017) is complementary to current CVE legislations in Nigeria. The strategy recognizes the role of various stakeholders to change violent extremism narratives and build institutional capacity on preventing and countering violent extremism.
It is against this background that the CLEEN Foundation reviewed counter terrorism laws/documents based on the findings from the field and produced a finalized standard tool for assessing citizen’s perception and awareness on countering violent extremism strategies and legislation in Nigeria.
This workshop is intended to make public the policy statement on CVE legislation issues and police accountability. The workshop is structured to offer opportunity of engagement between and among the state security actors, civil society organizations and the media.
Once again, I would like to extend a special appreciation to our collaborator- the National Human Rights Commission, and the funding support from the Open Society Foundation (OSF) Special appreciation also goes to the participating security agencies, the media and other civil society organisations and technical experts who will provide important contributions to the discussion. Thank you all once again for finding time to come for this occasion and I wish you all a successful and fruitful deliberation.
Benson Olugbuo PhD