Mass trials of Boko Haram suspects to resume in Nigeria

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…As Farmers set to access FG’s loans, herdsmen insurance cover***

Hundreds of Boko Haram suspects were due back in court Monday to hear if they will be prosecuted, sentenced or released, as proceedings resumed at a military base in central Nigeria.

The first major prosecutions of people arrested during the insurgency began last October, involving 1,669 suspects held at the facility in Kainji, Niger state.

The justice ministry has said 468 were released after it was found they had no case to answer; 45 were sentenced to between two and 15 years in jail; and 28 had their cases transferred.

A further 82 pleaded guilty in exchange for a lesser prison sentence or release taking into account time served in custody.

The remainder have had their cases adjourned pending further investigations.

Nigeria’s government banned the media and public from attending the trials, leading to criticism from the UN and human rights groups.

But the justice ministry said the second phase of proceedings would now be open to some civil society groups, including human rights organisations and the media.

Nigeria’s military has been accused of arbitrarily arresting civilians and holding them for years on end without access to lawyers.

Conditions have been described as overcrowded and unsanitary, while detainees have allegedly been tortured, died from illness or disease or were summarily executed.

Nearly nine years of conflict have left at least 20,000 dead and forced 2.6 million others from their homes, triggering a humanitarian crisis across the region.

Meanwhile, the National Insurance Commission has commenced the pilot implementation of Index-based Agricultural Insurance products in 10 northern states that will give farmers access to the Federal Government loans.

The Commissioner for Insurance, Alhaji Mohammed Kari, stated this during a workshop in Abuja.

He said that in partnership with the Nigeria Incentive-based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending, underwriters were currently exploring innovative insurance products for livestock to help stem the tide of herdsmen and farmers’ clashes.

Kari said, “Last year, Nigeria Incentive-based Risk Sharing System for Agricultural Lending, working with PULA advisors as its technical advisers and in collaboration with NAICOM, initiated the inception of an ‘Area Yield Index Insurance’ starting from the wet season.

“The initiative is driven on the ‘Anchor Borrowers Programme’ of the Central Bank of Nigeria’ financing window of over $1.0bn but will later extend to other financing options.

“A pilot implementation of Index-based Agric Insurance products in the 2017 farming season, in 10 northern states and for four crops (rice, maize, soya and sorghum) was successfully launched in 2017.”

According to the commissioner, the Nigerian Agricultural Insurance Corporation, with 50 per cent government premium subsidies, is supposed to provide agricultural indemnity insurance covering crop, livestock, poultry and aquaculture.

Guardian NG with additional report from Punch