The Deputy President of the Senate, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, has made a strong case for the establishment of special anti-terrorism courts to strengthen the war against terrorism and insurgency in Africa.
He made the call on Wednesday at the ongoing 46th Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, CPA, African Region Conference holding in Nairobi Kenya.
The theme of the Conference is “Democracy and Development in Africa: Policy Options in the Post-Millennium Development Goal Framework”.
Speaking on the sub-theme “The Role of Parliament in Tackling the Menace of Terrorism on the Continent of Africa”, Senator Ekweremadu who is at the head of the Nigeria National CPA Delegation, warned that terrorism in Africa was more widespread than was generally recognised. He said the Information Technology, ICT, penetration in Africa meant that terrorist groups could now mobilize, train, establish, and maintain cells and links without the physical obstacles of borders.
He therefore called on African nations to pay attention to judicial reforms as they embark of reform of legal frameworks and institutions to fight terrorism.
The Deputy President of the Senate said: “Our courts and judges are overwhelmed by lawsuits and the wheels of justice grind very slowly in most African countries. There is also the issue of the suitability of our conventional courts in terms of security for the trial of such high profile crimes.
“We should, therefore, consider amending our laws to set up special courts to try terrorism suspects. If punishments were to be swiftly meted out to offenders, it would deter prospective terrorists and their sponsors”.
The Senator expressed strong belief that besides lawmaking, African parliaments could contribute immensely to the war against terrorism by effectively utlising the powers of oversight, appropriation, approval of certain appointments, ratification of international treaties and conventions on terrorism, approval of special measures like State of Emergency as well as the legislative instruments of parliamentary instruments of resolutions, investigations, and public enlightenment to counter radicalisation as well as the manipulation of religious, political, and ethnic sentiments by terrorists to promote their evil agenda.
Commending the various anti-terrorism laws so-far made by African nations in response to the global threat, he however observed that “while laws seeking to prevent or punish terrorism are most welcome, attention should equally be paid to laws and policies that effectively address known factors that help to breed and escalate the blight of terrorism”.
He emphasised that “insecurity anywhere is insecurity everywhere” and advocated a continent-wide parliamentary partnership to galvanise actions through parliamentary diplomacy and peer-review of local parliamentary efforts to combat terrorism and insurgency.