The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has collaborated with the European Union Delegation and the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (NIALS) to launch a User’s Guide to counterterrorism in Nigeria.
A statement on Thursday by UNODC said the three organisations have worked on a User’s Guide to the Terrorism (Prevention) Act, 2011 (TPA) as amended by the Terrorism (Prevention) (Amendment) Act, 2013 (TPAA) for use by law enforcement, security and judicial officials in their work to counter-terrorism in Nigeria.
The statement explained that the materials assembled by UN and Nigerian experts for the User’s Guide are designed to serve as a quick and practical reference work for investigators, prosecutors, public defenders and judges working in this complex field.
The statement said: “The Guide sets out clearly the elements of each offence and the evidential standards that must be met to successfully secure a conviction under the provisions of the Act. It also explains in detail all of the ancillary powers set out in the Act.
“Within the context of the EU-Nigeria-UNODC-CTED Partnership Project to Assist Nigeria to Strengthen Rule of Law-based Criminal Justice Responses to Terrorism and Violent Extremism, UNODC has been actively supporting the work of the Complex Case Group of the Federal Ministry of Justice to help prosecutors prepare cases against suspected members of Boko Haram currently held in custody that can be presented before the Federal High Court.
“It has also been working with the Legal Aid Council of Nigeria (LACON) to ensure that these defendants have the opportunity to mount a proper defence, and with the judges of the Federal High Court who will adjudicate these cases. Promoting further legal education is an important aspect of this support.”
Speaking on the new innovation, the Head of Cooperation in the EU Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Cécile Tassin-Pelzer, said: “The criminal justice system in Nigeria has made great strides in the past few years in bringing suspected members of terrorist organisations to justice, but there is always room for improvement in this most challenging of areas. It is our earnest hope that the User’s Guide will greatly assist criminal justice professionals as they prepare their cases for court, and thus help to advance the swift and effective administration of justice for victims of terrorism.”
On his part, the Director-General, Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, Prof. Muhammed Ladan, added that: “The risks and threats posed by terrorist activities require the adoption of proactive, integrated, multisectoral and multidimensional approaches to effectively combat it. It is, therefore, imperative for prosecutors, investigators and the courts to understand and familiarise themselves with the provisions of the TPA, as amended.”
The Country Representative of the UNODC, Mr Oliver Stolpe, reacting to the latest development, welcomed the launch of the User’s Guide, noting that: “UNODC has been partnering with the European Union for almost 10 years now to support the Nigerian government’s efforts to hold terrorists to account for their crimes, and the publication of this User’s Guide is just one more in a series of initiatives to support that goal. We hope that the Guide we are launching today will help in the administration of swift and effective justice in this most critical of public arenas.”