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Nigeria, Italy co-chair counter terrorism forum

(L-R) Executive Secretary IIJ, Steven Hill, Head of Department Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Francesca Santoro and Rear Admiral Yaminu Musa (rtd) the Coordinator National Counter-Terrorism Centre.

Nigeria and Italy have co-chaired the 7th plenary meeting of the Global Counter-Terrorism Forum (GCTF) for criminal justice and rules of law, a working group held in St. Julian, Malta.

The Criminal justice and rule of law working group for the period of 2022-2024, of the global counter-terrorism forum focuses on the critical role played by the criminal justice sector in combating terrorism and demonstrates the forum’s commitment to supporting rule of law-based, human rights compliant approaches.

Coordinator, National Counter-terrorism Centre Office of the National Security Adviser (NSA), Rear Admiral Yaminu Musa (rtd), who represented Nigeria at the event said the meeting was dedicated to supporting the development of an effective criminal justice system within a rule of law framework and fully respecting human rights.

Admiral Musa who said the aims was to ensure that persons who plan, perpetrate, or support terrorism acts are brought to justice, affirmed that the administration of criminal justice terrorism-related cases could neither be efficient nor effective if the rights of those concerned are not protected.

The Coordinator of the National Counter-Terrorism Centre stated that the effect of lack of protection for witnesses has resulted in the striking out of cases by the courts involving heinous crimes as witnesses often refused to testify due to the absence of a system for their protection.

According to Musa, Nigeria signed the witness protection and Management Act into law on May 23, 2020, to specifically address that challenge.

He noted that Nigeria first Co-chaired the criminal justice rule of law (CJ-ROL) working group with Switzerland in 2020 and developed the Abuja recommendations on the collection, use, and sharing of evidence for the purposes of criminal protection of terror suspects.

This was endorsed at the 2018 Global Counter-terrorism Forum (GCTF) Ministerial meeting on the sidelines of the 72nd United Nations General Assembly.

The NCTC Coordinator added that since its inception, the criminal justice, rule of law working group has accomplished a lot through the development of recommendations and good practices for effective counter-terrorism practice in the criminal justice sector.

Writing by Emmanuel Ejim; Editing by Muzha Kucha, Julian Osamoto and Adeniyi Bakare