The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, has said the Federal Government will not disclose the identities of suspected financiers of terrorism.
He said this was to protect the constitutional right of the suspects as they are presumed innocent unless proven otherwise by a court of law.
Malami, according to a statement yesterday by his media aide, Umar Gwandu, said this while addressing journalists on the sideline of the ongoing 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
He said the Complex Case Group of the Department of Public Prosecution of the Federation in the Ministry of Justice had reviewed over 1000 Boko Haram case files out of which 285 had been charged before the Federal High Court based on prima facie cases of terrorism against them.
He stated that prosecution of the cases were delayed due to the COVID-19 lockdown, Judiciary Staff Union’s strike and court vacation.
“Naming and shaming of suspects is not embarked upon as a policy by the federal government out of sheer respect the constitutional rights of Nigerians relating to presumption of innocence.
“It is a product of constitutionalism and the law. It is rooted in the law and the names of the suspects will accordingly be made public at the point of judicial arraignment while the shaming remains a consequence of judicial conviction.
“Trials are judicial process and not about media sensations. Naming and shaming, in the Nigerian context, must be rooted in constitutionalism.”
“We must strike a balance between constitutional presumption of innocence and evidential proof of reasonable ground for suspicion in making disclosures associated with terrorism funding and financing.
“Where reasonable grounds are established, suspects must be naturally taken to court at which point their identity must be disclosed and the naming become apparent.
“Shaming, on the other hand, is the product of conviction at which point the public are equally judicially put on noticed.”
“In essence naming and shaming within the context of Nigerian law are judicial functions which commence with arraignment and terminate with convictions.
“Naming and shaming is not unguided and unregulated process. It is not like a discarded ship left at the mercy of winds and tides,” he said.
He said the government had gone after those financing and had succeeded in identifying those that are allegedly responsible.
Malami said the government had also blocked leakages associated with terrorism funding and embarked on aggressive investigation yielding a positive impact.
“The truth of the matter is that investigation is ongoing and advancing. For the purpose of investigation I would not like to be pre-emptive in terms of making disclosures that will have effect of undermining the successes we are recording.
“One thing I can tell you for sure is that whatever we do in terms of detention and arrest is indeed backed-up by judicial processes.
“We have acquired and obtained legitimate court orders taking into consideration the facts and material proof of evidence presented before the court on account of which the court eventually exercises its discretion in terms of granting orders that we can have the suspects in custody pending the conclusion of the investigation,” he said.