Besieged but not Relenting: Ensuring Fair Trials for Nigeria’s Terrorism Suspects

Nigeria’s criminal justice system is dealing with thousands of people in mass trials related to terrorism offences – including those committed by suspected Boko Haram members. Having conducted three phases of trials between 2017 and 2018, with each phase lasting no more than five days, the system is struggling to ensure fair trials for terrorism suspects who have been arrested and detained by Nigeria’s military. The seemingly siloed response to the fight against terrorism by the criminal justice system and the military compounds the problem. This study interrogates the extent to which counter terrorism legislative frameworks, processes and operations in Nigeria comply with international human rights norms on fair trial guarantees. Beyond presenting an analysis of key findings, it investigates ways to strengthen state and non-state actors’ capacities regarding respect for human rights in terror offence trials and counter-terrorism operations. Where there are gaps in the criminal justice system, recommendations are made. Their implementation is crucial for the next phases of trials by the Nigerian criminal justice system and if progress in the fight against terrorism is to be made.