Capacity-building for Nigerian military and civil prosecutors and investigators

Julio Ottaviano International Conferences, Judicial Capacity Building, News and Events, News and Events AGJA

Over the course of three days, from 2nd to 4th November 2017, the Wayamo Foundation, Africa Group for Justice and Accountability (AGJA) and International Nuremberg Principles Academy held the fourth of the current series of capacity-building workshops on “Strengthening Justice and Accountability in Nigeria”.

For pictures, click here.

This workshop marked a radical shift in that it was the first to combine training for both military and civil investigators and prosecutors on how to address the most serious and complex crimes under Nigerian criminal law (international, transnational and terrorism related crimes), including crimes that potentially fall under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC). Both military and civil participants indicated that the workshop had been “very interactive, informative and educational.”

Opening the event, General Yusuf Shalangwa, Director Legal Services Nigerian Army, noted that the military was in the forefront of investigations of these crimes in Nigeria and thatthe Army would continue to operate strictly within the ambit of the law. On behalf of the civilian participants, Yusuf Abdulkadir, Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions, said that they were there “to share ideas”, and that,“nobody has a monopoly of knowledge”.

In order to tailor the content  to domestic needs, lecturers and trainers represented a carefully chosen mix of leading legal experts and practitioners from Nigeria and abroad (See programme)

Chino Obiagwu, Chairman of the Nigerian Coalition for the International Criminal Court, stressed that the three fundamental pillars for legal practitioners were “knowledge, attitude and practice”. Akingbolahan Adeniran, Rule of Law Advisor to the Office of the Vice-President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, acknowledged that the participants’ work was “tough”, and in order to make their work “seamless”, he highlighted the need for close collaboration, embedded investigators, analysts and, above all, prosecution co-ordinators. Drawing on their international and domestic experience Adejoké Babington-Ashaye, formerly with the ICC and Segun Jegede former prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, addressed modes of liability from an international and domestic stance. As to the specific task of prosecuting international crimes domestically, international criminal justice lawyer, Angela Mudukuti, emphasised the great advantages of domesticating  the Rome Statute of the ICC.

All the sessions were marked by an intense degree of interaction but never more so than when Charles Adeogun-Phillips, Litigation Practitioner and Former Lead International Prosecutor, challenged the participants on the sensitive matter of the fair trial rights of the accused. On reviewing this session the following day, Akingbolahan Adeniran observed that, “Our law is not to convict at all costs but to ensure justice.” It was, he insisted, essential that prosecutors thought about the defence. No less stimulating, impassioned and controversial was the response to the talk on sexual violence given by Sofia Candeias from the UN Team of Experts on the Rule of Law and Sexual Violence in Conflict. Despite the notorious reticence of victims of sexual abuse to come forward and speak about their experiences, it was a prosecutor’s “duty” to seek more information. For her part, Farah Mahmood of the Nuremberg Principles Academy spoke of the usefulness of NGOs when it came to establishing possible leads and collecting evidence.

Having successfully challenged Groucho Marx’s witticism that “Military justice is to justice what military music is to music”, Retired Colonel United Kingdom Army Legal Services, Charles Garraway canvassed the intricacies of command responsibility and superior orders. He aptly summed up the three days by confessing that he could do nothing but reiterate what he had said at the Lagos workshop, namely, that “it had been a real privilege”, and that the professional way in which they were trying to resolve their problems was “humbling”.

Click here for full press release.