The first of more than 1,600 suspected Boko Haram militants are due to appear in a series of trials scheduled to start later today in Nigeria.
Most of the defendants were arrested in the last few years as the Nigerian government stepped up its campaign against the Islamist militant group.
Boko Haram has been fighting for the last eight years to overthrow the government and create an Islamic state.
There are at least 5,000 suspects being held in different locations in the north-east of the country who are expected to face trial in the coming weeks.
To date a small number of people have been tried and convicted for links to the insurgency.
The Nigerian courts are also chronically slow and these are cases with more difficulties than most, he says.
Four judges begin secret Boko Haram trials
Nigeria has now started the trials of thousands of suspects accused of being involved with the militant Islamist group Boko Haram.
Sources at the ministry of justice have told me that four judges have started their trials at the military detention facility in Kainji town, north-central Niger state, where more than 1,600 suspects are being kept.
It is not clear how many have been arraigned on the first day of the trials.
Up to 1,670 people will be tried in the coming weeks with a further 5,000 people after that. Many of the suspects have been detained for years.
This is the biggest series of terrorism-related trials in Nigerian history so far.
The trials are to be conducted in secret at detention facilities across the country – although they are not military tribunals.
Human rights activists and some families of the suspects have expressed fears that this will undermine transparency.
The trials are likely to last for months, or even years, because of the huge number of suspects who will be tried individually, according to Justice Minister Abubakar Malami.
Plus the judicial system here is chronically slow.
More than 20,000 people have been killed and millions of others displaced by Boko Haram’s eight-year insurgency in several countries in the Lake Chad region.
Many people, including women and children, have also been abducted by the militants.
Categories: Boko Haram