3 convicted of terror charges at secret trial in Nigeria

2014-10-03 15:46
File: AFP

File: AFP

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Lagos - The authorities in Nigeria's biggest city, Lagos, said they have tried and convicted in secret three suspects on terror charges, reportedly linked to Boko Haram.

The Lagos State justice commissioner Ade Ipaye said that the case, which ended on Tuesday, saw each of the three men sentenced to 25 years in prison.

Charges were dropped against 13 others while a fourth defendant was acquitted on the grounds of lack of evidence, he told a news conference in the city on Thursday evening.

Ipaye said the hearing at the Federal High Court began in November last year and he defended holding the case behind closed doors on the grounds of safeguarding national security.

Nigerian newspapers said the men were part of a Boko Haram cell planning to attack Lagos but Ipaye referred to the three only as "terrorists", without elaborating.

Mausi Segun, Nigeria researcher with Human Rights Watch, said the men's secret hearing, conviction and sentence may have violated the principle of due process and a fair trial.

It was also against the Nigerian constitution and a series of regional and international conventions and statutes, she added.

"These laws and principles make no exceptions for pronouncing judgment in public," she told AFP.

Acts of terrorism

"The rendering of judgment in secret in this case clearly falls below standards and opens it to possible challenge on appeal for violating the rights of the defendants to fair trial."

Boko Haram has killed thousands and displaced many more in their five-year insurgency, which has largely been concentrated in Nigeria's far northeast.

But there have been deadly car bomb attacks in the central city of Jos and the capital Abuja, while in June, a Boko Haram cell was suspected of detonating a home-made bomb in Lagos.

Ipaye said the 17 suspects were initially arrested in the Lagos suburbs of Lekki and Ijora and found with improvised explosive devices, firearms and ammunition.

The explosives were "fully primed and ready to be deployed", he added.

They were charged in March 2013 with conspiracy, acts of terrorism, concealing information and possession of firearms and ammunition.

The defendants pleaded not guilty.

Under the provisions of the 2013 Terrorist Act, the three men were liable to be sentenced to death but the judge jailed them as they were apprehended at the planning stage, Ipaye added.

Read more on:    boko haram  |  nigeria  |  west africa

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