Why FG must prosecute Owo suspects now – Lawyer

Why FG must prosecute Owo suspects now - Lawyer

An Abuja-based human rights lawyer, Pelumi Olajengbesi, has called on the Federal Government to speed up the prosecution of the suspected masterminds arrested in connection with the deadly terror attack on a Catholic church in Owo, Ondo State.

Punch Metro reported that at least 40 worshippers were killed by gunmen who invaded the St. Francis Catholic Church in Owo, on Sunday, June 5, 2022.

However, on Tuesday,  the Chief of Defence Staff, General Lucky Irabor, confirmed the arrest of five suspects, a development confirmed by the Governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu.

In a statement made available to Punch Metro on Wednesday, the lawyer urged the government to immediately prosecute the suspects to avoid their escape through jailbreak.

He noted that their swift prosecution and conviction will go a long way to forestall deterrence, adding that the regime of the resident, Major General Muhammadu Buhari(retd), must send a strong signal to the terrorist camps in the country by ensuring justice is quickly served.

Olajengbesi however warned against dilly-dallying and foot-dragging on the matter as seen in past cases including 400 bureau de change operators and Boko Haram financiers arrested by the government since 2021 whilst none of them has been prosecuted to date.

“Whilst one must commend the security agencies for the arrest of the dastard carnage at Owo in June, it is important to stress the need for the swift prosecution and subsequent conviction of the suspects.

“Having established that the actions of the suspects were in gross violation of the Terrorism (Prevention) Amendment Act 2013, the Federal Government should not hesitate to arraign the suspects for their trial to begin in earnest.

“Nigerians are keen about this matter and won’t accept any political interference and delay tactics like is currently happening to 400 BDC operators arrested for terrorism financing since 2021 but who are yet to be arraigned by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN).

“The Nigerian Government should learn from the United Arab Emirates which swiftly tried and jailed six Nigerians over allegations of terrorism financing.

“In the case of Owo, Nigerians won’t take cover-ups. Justice must be dispensed quickly lest the government give the accomplices of the suspects time to plot their escape from prison as seen in the attack on Kuje prison on July 5, 2022 where at least 69 Boko Haram suspects were confirmed to have escaped when ISWAP fighters attacked the prison.

“In fact, for security reasons, the Owo suspects should be kept in DSS custody as prisons are now susceptible to attacks, not with a country that has recorded about 20 jailbreaks since the All Progressives Congress government took over office.”