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SERAP urges prosecution, not foreign education for repentant terrorists

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SOCIO-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sent an open letter to the Senate President, Dr Ahmad Lawan, urging him to use his leadership position to “ensure that the bill that would allow ‘repentant Boko Haram terrorists’ opportunities to access public funds to enjoy foreign education is immediately dropped, and to sponsor bills that would ensure access to justice and reparation for the victims of Boko Haram terrorist group.”

  According to a press statement signed by Kolawole Oluwadare, SERAP Deputy Director , “the bill, which has passed the first reading at the Senate would give opportunities to ‘repentant terrorists’ to receive foreign education by accessing funds from the Universal Basic Education Commission, the Tertiary Education Trust Fund and subventions from the government.”

  In the letter dated 28 February, 2020, and signed by SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said: “This bill erodes justice and makes a mockery of the suffering of victims, and the unspeakable human tragedy, humanitarian crisis and appalling atrocities committed by the Boko Haram terrorist group.”

  SERAP said: “By calling Boko Haram members ‘ex-agitators’, the bill mocks the victims of appalling atrocities committed by the terrorist group, and is a blatant affront to victims’ dignity. ‘Repentant Boko Haram terrorists’ are not ‘ex-agitators’; they are terrorists under Nigerian and international laws.”

  According to SERAP: “Boko Haram members should not be allowed to enjoy foreign education while over 13 million Nigerian children of school age are roaming our streets. Alleged perpetrators of gross violations should not get the benefits at the expense of these and other deserving children. Rather than allowing perpetrators to access public funds to enjoy foreign education, the Senate should be promoting reparation for victims, to prevent future criminality and ensure the best interest of justice.”

  SERAP also said: “Should the Senate go ahead to pass the bill, and should the bill be supported by the House of Representatives and assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari, the Registered Trustees of SERAP shall take all appropriate legal actions nationally and internationally to challenge the legality of any such law and ensure that it is never implemented.”

  The letter read in part: “Prioritising the education of Boko Haram members over the rights of Nigerian children to quality education is discriminatory, as it violates Nigerian constitutional provisions, international and regional human rights obligations, and will undermine national development.

  “This bill serves neither justice nor the public interest. The bill also does not represent value for money for Nigerian taxpayers, especially coming from an institution whose individual member reportedly takes home about N182 million yearly, translating to N15.1 million monthly or N45.3 million quarterly.”

  “In proposing bills to respond to the atrocities committed by the Boko Haram terrorist group, the Senate should ensure strict adherence to the 1999 Nigerian Constitution (as amended) and Nigeria’s international human rights obligations and commitments, including the 1985 United Nations Declaration of the Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power, which provides for the basic standards for victims”

treatment.

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