#EndSARS:Criminal Proceedings Against Those Indicted Likely Says
*Says Pardon For Kanu Premature
*Says We Will Treat Kidnappers As Terrorists
*Rules Out Amnesty For Repentant Bandits

The Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, yesterday said the federal government based on recent judgment of a Federal High Court now treats kidnappers who used force and arms against the people as terrorist.

Malami stressed that by the recent judgment of Justice Taiwo Taiwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja, the federal government has been fully equipped to take decisive actions against kidnappers and bandits, who according to him have brought untold hardship on the people.

He stated this yesterday when he appeared as guest on a programme on Channels Television.

Malami also said the report of the Lagos judicial panel on police brutality cannot be conclusive in establishing a position that live bullets were used at the Lekki tollgate.Over the past few days, the report of the #EndSARS panel on the Lekki incident has elicited varied reactions as the panel said soldiers “killed unarmed protesters in a manner that could be described in the context of a massarce”.But the Lagos government, in its white paper released on Tuesday, rejected the findings of the panel.

Speaking on the development, the attorney-general of the federation said the report is not “conclusive” of the true position of what transpired on October 20, 2020.“You (referring to the presenter) are jumping into a conclusion that live ammunition was indeed used during the #EndSARS,” he said.“Whether the report said so or it does not say so, as far as I’m concerned, I’m not in the position to ascertain because whatever it is, one, you said there was a report.

And arriving from your submission, there was a white paper; arriving from the white paper, part of the report was rejected and part of it was admitted“Within the context of the white paper too, you have criminal investigations that must naturally follow through the process of prosecution when the need arises.“With or without the report, what I’m trying to say in essence, the report, in its own right, cannot be conclusive in establishing a position.“There are still additional layers of administrative and judicial processes that would follow before you can jump into a particular conclusion establishing a point criminal or otherwise.

“I think as far as the report, in its own right, it is not conclusive of a provision of what truly transpired against the background of your submission that part of the report was indeed rejected by Lagos state government.“And certainly, there are other investigative components that may at the end of the day translate to criminal prosecution and as such, it is indeed very premature for you to jump into conclusion that live ammunition was used.“I’m not in the position to accept that from you and I can’t share in your conclusion as to whether indeed live ammunition was used. It is premature for me as a chief law officer to share in your conclusion in that direction.”

He also said: “We cannot rule out any possibility, because there may be need for criminal investigation on the matter and possibly prosecution.

“The report in its own right cannot form a conclusion. So, there’s still the need to look more critically into the report to determine whether there will be criminal proceedings from the findings.”

He said that with the White Paper, it has now been established that some of the things that were said to have happened at the Lekki Toll Gate did not actually happen

The minister added that the federal government ordered the deployment of soldiers and security forces as a measure to protect lives and properties of the citizenry.

He noted that till date, it could not be established whether live ammunitions were used on October 20, 2020 at Lekki Toll Gate.

“We can’t conclude that live ammunitions were used on October 20, 2020,” the chief law officer said.

Malami said the government will always engage in continuous reforms of its policies including security matters, to meet the present realities that will be beneficial to the public.

He said: “Change and perhaps, reforms are dynamic and not static. We had some in 2020, but we’ve always been guided by what’s unfolding in the country.

“As far as reforms are concerned, we will always do the needful to always meet present realities, though our reforms won’t be driven by ENDSARS agitations.”

The minister also spoke on development in the Nigerian justice sector, added that the government would however follow the law and international best practices in dealing with bandits and kidnappers recently declared as terrorist.

Malami explained that the judgment described anyone who uses arms and force to cause security challenge in the country, perpetuate kidnappings and insurgency as terrorists.

“If you kidnap, using force, using arms, you are qualified to be a terrorist, within the dictate and the judicial determination as done by the court, you can then be tried in accordance with the Terrorism Act”, he said.

He stated that by the decision of the court, bandits and kidnappers have now joined the league of Boko Haram which have been proscribed long before now and will be given the same treatment by the Nigerian military.

He said, “Boko Haram has been proscribed long before now, they have been declared terrorist and that is the more reason why they have frontally been engaged by the military in terms of ensuring their elimination in line and in tune with international best practices and what the bandits have succeeded in doing now is to have themselves accommodated within that context in the way and manner of the Boko Haram.”

When asked if the federal government was considering amnesty for repentant bandits and kidnappers, the mister stated that amnesty was not inherent in the terrorism arrangement as it stands on its own, adding that amnesty was in no way automatic to bandits and terrorist.

He said, “No decision has been taking in that direction, but one decision that have been taking is declaration of bandits as terrorist and will be accordingly dealt with for now. The idea of window or no window is not an issue that has been discussed, deliberated and agreed upon. As far as we are concerned, they have now been declared terrorist and are been dealt with accordingly.”

He also maintained that the government would not engage a third party in tackling the issue of banditry which have so far devastated the economy of most northern states.

It will be recalled that Sheik Gumi have been in the forefront of finding an amicable solution to the issue of banditry in the country, which he warned should not be declared a terrorist group.

However, when asked if the government would engage the sheik in resolving the problem, Malami stated that he cannot comment on Gumi because the government was yet to engage him official, adding that the government following the court’s declaration would continue to treat bandits as terrorist without engaging a third party.

“Our decision as to how best to deal with them or not deal with them would not in any way be influenced by what Gumi is doing, our decision will be guided exclusively by the judicial fundamentals and by the security principles of international best practices”, he said.

Answering questions on the recent invasion of the residence of Supreme Court Justice, Mary Peter-Odili, while the AGF described the incident as an unfortunate one, particularly when no agency of the federal government was involved, he disclosed that all those arrested and found culpable will soon be prosecuted.

According to him, the Police have concluded their investigation and report already submitted to the Office of the Attorney General for necessary action.

He disclosed that the report showed that the act was perpetrated by an organised criminal syndicate and that they will be dealt with accordingly.

On Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the Independent People of Biafra (IPOB), he stressed that pardon was a function of conviction in the Nigerian context and since he had not been convicted yet, the idea of pardoning him was premature. While the minister maintained that Kanu’s trial was still ongoing before a court of law, he however, acknowledged the possibility of an out of court settlement of the issue, adding that such a decision would be guided by public interest.

He, however, noted that such a solution was not yet on the table and that the government would cross the bridge when it gets there.

On those funding terrorism in the country, Malami said investigation was ongoing and the government will do the needful at the right time. He disclosed that arrest have been made and that they will surely be prosecuted at the appropriate time, adding that no one will be spared.

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