Is the War Against Boko Haram hamstrung by legal impediments?
A paper published in the NATO Defense Against Terrorism Review by AUN's Assistant Professor in the school of law, Dr. Uchenna Jerome Orji, titled: "Assessing Legal and Policy Responses to Boko Haram's Terrorism in Nigeria", is raising the decibels in the debate on how valuable and effectual Nigeria's counterterrorism laws and policies have been as a component of a grand strategy to defeat Boko Haram.
Are the laws useful or an impediment in addressing the insurgency? As the conflict drags on and continues to inflict death and suffering on the local population, policymakers, defense experts, and researchers are rethinking existing frameworks and statutes relating to the conduct of the war. In this article, Professor Uchenna Orji offers useful insights and suggestions.
He critically examines the legal and policy frameworks. He identifies factors obstructing effective enforcement of counterterrorism laws and related security measures adopted by the Nigerian Government in tackling the insurgency while offering proposals for improved law enforcement and counterterrorism policy implementation.
Prof. Orji thoroughly reviewed the exercise of powers as it relates to the detention and prosecution of suspected terrorists under the powers of section 27(1) of the Terrorism (Prevention) (Amendment) Act 2013. He also examined the relevance of other policy instruments designed by the Nigerian Government to counter the activities of terrorists, such as the National Counter-Terrorism Strategy, the Nigerian National Security Strategy, and the National Action Plan for Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism.
Dr. Orji identifies the challenges of law enforcement in the counterterrorism war to include: "inefficient handling of terrorism cases resulting in the prolonged detention of suspects without trial, poor investigation of cases, lack of effective synergy between the military and the Federal Ministry of Justice, logistical challenges, the use of informal channels for terrorist financing activities and the inability of the government to address the root causes of violent religious extremism such as poverty, unemployment and inequality".
The researcher argues for strong political will for diligent and thorough prosecution of arrested suspects. He also seeks a review of the Terrorism (Prevention) (Amendment) Act 2013, the establishment of Special Tribunals to handle terrorism cases, and enhancing the prosecutorial capacity of the Federal Ministry of Justice, among others. Please use this link to access the research: