A non-governmental organisation (NGO), the Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA Resource Centre), has written to the Trial Prosecutor, International Criminal Court (ICC), The Hague, Netherlands, requesting it to investigate allegations of complicity against government officials in the terrorism war by Boko Haram Islamist insurgents in Nigeria’s North-East.
The letter dated September 1, 2014 and addressed to Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda of the ICC, was titled ‘Possible Culpability of Nigerian Government officials in Boko Haram terrorism and Genocidal atrocities in Northern Nigeria: Request for investigation and prosecution’. It was signed by HEDA’s chairman, Olarenwaju Suraju.
HEDA in the letter drew Bensouda’s attention “to the unfolding revelations surrounding the alleged sponsorship and conspiratorial support of certain ex-officials of the Nigerian Government to the terrorist group, Boko Haram.”
The group said: “The heinous crimes against humanity being perpetuated by the terrorist group in the North-eastern and a few other parts of the country since 2009, is in clear violation of Article 7 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
“We, therefore, invite you to open a comprehensive examination of these violations. This is only in line with your office’s promise in a statement issued in response to the criminal abduction of 279 school children of Chibok community in Borno State. We equally wish to request that you investigate and prosecute any international crime that may have been committed by the Boko Haram terrorist group and their sponsors, under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.”
HEDA drew attention to an earlier statement credited to Bensouda, in April 2014, in response to the abduction of 276 schoolgirls in Nigeria by the Boko Haram terrorists, which reads in reads in part:
“I am deeply troubled and alarmed by disturbing reports of alleged abduction of over 200 schoolgirls in Borno State, Nigeria, and the most recent reports that more schoolgirls have been abducted this week. Such acts shock the conscience of humanity and could constitute crimes that fall within the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC).
“The situation in Nigeria has been under preliminary examination by the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC since 2010. In August 2013, the office issued a report concluding that (there is a reasonable basis to believe that) Boko Haram has been committing crimes against humanity of murder and persecution since July 2009. Information gathered by the office indicates that there has been a sharp increase in the frequency and intensity of attacks attributed to Boko Haram since January 2014, including a significant increase in alleged abductions of women and girls and of sexual slavery. Some of Boko Haram’s alleged crimes would also amount to war crimes, as the Prosecutor has recently concluded that the situation constitutes a non international armed conflict.
“As Nigeria is a state party to the Rome Statute, the ICC has jurisdiction over war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide committed on the territory of Nigeria or by its nationals from July 1, 2002 onwards. Having concluded that some of the alleged crimes committed in the Nigeria situation fall within subject-matter jurisdiction of the ICC, the Office of the Prosecutor is currently assessing relevant national proceedings in conformity with the principle of complementarity. Under the Rome Statute, the Nigerian authorities have primary responsibility to investigate and prosecute the alleged crimes. Such cases may become admissible before the ICC if there are no relevant investigations or prosecutions in Nigeria, or if the national authorities are unwilling or unable to carry out genuine investigations or prosecutions.”
HEDA noted that the total number of Nigerian refugees in Cameroon now stands at some 39,000, while Niger is already hosting more than 50,000 forcibly displaced from Nigeria since May 2013, adding: “Another 1,500 Nigerians have sought refuge in Chad. In Nigeria 645,000 have been displaced in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states, according to UNHCR spokesman, Adrian Edwards.”
The group recalled that in July 2014, Boko Haram was reported for the first time to have taken control over a city – Damboa in Borno State – setting up road blocks and checkpoints in what would represent a major strategic victory over the military. “More than 15, 000 people fled as a consequence of the attack, increasing the number of internally displaced people (IDP), which is estimated to have surpassed 3.3 million since 2010. In fact, Nigeria has one of the highest IDP populations in the world, a pressing challenge that requires immediate response, according to UN Human Rights expert.
“On a conservative estimate, the death toll arising from Boko Haram’s activities between July 2009 and July 2014 is over 22,000. This includes 2,000 deaths in 2014 alone,” the group said.
HEDA continued: “Recently, the Nigerian Government allegedly contracted Rev. Stephen Davis, the Australian international negotiator, to dialogue with the Boko Haram sect to secure the release of the abducted Chibok girls. In an interesting turn of event, Rev. Davis named the country’s former Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Azubuike Ihejirika, and former Governor of Borno State, Senator Ali-Modu Sheriff, as sponsors of the terrorist group. The negotiator, obviously out of frustration from the failure of government to act on his discoveries in the course of negotiation and recommendations for action, spoke to the media, specifically indicting some high-ranking security and government officials as sponsors of the terrorists. The spread, daring nature and unchecked ferocity of the Boko Haram group supports the revelation of Stephen Davis, with respect to the involvement of security and government officials in the sponsorship of the terrorists.
“With your public admittance of Boko Haram’s activities as qualifying for crimes against humanity, we shall not bother with further legal points to qualify these atrocities under the Rome Statute. It is also instructive to assert that the Nigerian government, under the current leadership lacks the political will and judicial independence to prosecute the individuals who are friends and former subordinates of the President.
“It is said that an injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. HEDA is concerned that the failure of the International Criminal Court to halt the egregious affront and murderous campaigns of the Boko Haram, makes more Nigerians and citizens of neighbouring countries potential victims of their brazen murder of innocent souls. We hereby urge the ICC to urgently open immediate examination of this development by inviting Rev. Stephen Davis to provide insight into his revelations, to assist the court in its investigation and possible prosecution of those connected with the crimes.
“We look forward to your urgent response to this matter.”
Source News Express