The recent Federal Government’s disclosure that it is not interested in naming and shaming the sponsors and other financiers of terrorism in the country is quite shocking. Coming at a time the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has named some sponsors of terrorism, including six Nigerians, this is rather disappointing.
Although the government has explained that it is interested in bringing the sponsors of terrorism to justice, there is nothing wrong with publicly disclosing their names before prosecution. The Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the President, Femi Adesina, dropped the hint recently on behalf of the President Muhammadu Buhari.
Speaking on the same issue, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, claimed that disclosing the names of those involved before trial would jeopardise investigations and successes so far recorded in tracking the culprits. The minister added that as far as terrorism funding and financing is concerned, the government has succeeded in identifying those allegedly responsible for the act as well as blocking the linkages associated with funding while embarking on aggressive investigation that is indeed impacting positively in terms of the fight against terrorism.
According to the minister, “naming and shaming of suspects is not embarked upon as a policy by the Federal Government out of sheer respect for the constitutional rights of Nigerians relating to presumption of innocence.” He further stated: “It is a product of constitutionalism and the law. It is rooted in the law and the names of the suspects will accordingly be made public at the point of judicial arraignment while the shaming remains a consequence of judicial conviction.” The explanation by the minister notwithstanding, government should not shy away from telling Nigerians those sponsoring terrorism in the country as the UAE has done recently.
It must not hide under the respect of human rights to evade this responsibility. The government, known for disobeying court decisions, cannot now hide under the rule of law to conceal the identities of those involved in terrorism. If the government fails to come clear on this issue, it is doubtful if the United States can still assist it in naming the sponsors of terrorism.
We strongly believe that publicly naming the sponsors of terrorism in the country has been one issue that many Nigerians have keenly looked up to. The US recent expression of its willingness to help identify sponsors of terrorism in the country came as a bold relief to many Nigerians, who saw the offer as a significant step in resolving the nation’s insecurity.
The terror war has dragged on for so long and millions of lives have been lost over the war. That is why most Nigerians believe that bringing to book the sponsors of terrorism will lead to the defeat of the terrorists. While we welcome any action by the government that will bring to an end the violence unleashed on the country by terrorists, we urge the government to deploy new strategies in the war against terrorism. Therefore, government should not leave any stone unturned in unmasking and bringing to book those sponsoring terrorism in the country.
At this point in time, only a transparent trial of the identified suspects would convince Nigerians that the government is serious in tackling insecurity in the country. Terrorism financing is a major issue of concern in Nigeria in the last few years. How the government goes about the lead from the UAE and others fingered in the odious engagement, will go a long way in demonstrating its attitude in fighting terrorists.
At the same time, it is commendable that Malami has given assurances that the government is working vigorously to ensure the prosecution of those financing terrorism. Let the government walk the talk. The government must have a definite timeframe to dislodge and defeat the terrorists. The war must not be seen as being interminable.