ICC ex­tends war crime probes to Army, Shi’ites, IPOB clashes – Re­port

The Punch - - FRONT PAGE - Ade Ade­s­o­moju, Abuja

THE In­ter­na­tional Crim­i­nal Court has said it has ex­tended its pre­lim­i­nary ex­am­i­na­tions on pos­si­ble war crimes and crimes against hu­man­ity in Nige­ria to cover the clashes be­tween Nige­rian sol­diers and mem­bers of the Is­lamic Move­ment in Nige­ria, a body of Shi’ite Mus­lims in the coun­try.

The ICC is also ex­tend­ing the ex­am­i­na­tions to the clashes be­tween the Nige­rian sol­diers and a sep­a­ratist group, the In­dige­nous Peo­ple of Bi­afra.

The ICCI dis­closed this in its 2019 edi­tion of the an­nual Re­port of Pre­lim­i­nary Ex­am­i­na­tion Ac­tiv­i­ties is­sued by the of­fice of its Pros­e­cu­tor headed by Mrs Fa­tou Ben­souda.

The re­port dated De­cem­ber 5, 2019 in­di­cated that pre­lim­i­nary ex­am­i­na­tion of the sit­u­a­tion in Nige­ria was an­nounced on Novem­ber 18, 2010.

It noted that the Of­fice of the ICC Pros­e­cu­tor on Novem­ber 12, 2015 “iden­ti­fied eight po­ten­tial cases in­volv­ing the com­mis­sion of crimes against hu­man­ity and war crimes un­der ar­ti­cles 7 and 8” of the Rome Statutes.

The re­port, which stated that Nige­ria was among the coun­tries un­der Phase 3 ex­am­i­na­tions by the Of­fice of the Pros­e­cu­tor, added that its lat­est up­dated

“sub­ject-mat­ter as­sess­ment” had in­creased the num­ber of po­ten­tial cases in­volv­ing Nige­ria from eight to 10.

Of the 10 cases now un­der the ICC pre­lim­i­nary ex­am­i­na­tion, seven of them were said to be for Boko Haram and three for the Nige­rian se­cu­rity forces.

The is­sues of the se­cu­rity forces’ clashes with Shi’ites’ and IPOB mem­bers as well as com­mu­nal clashes in Benue, Plateau and other North-cen­tral states and in some parts of the North-east were said to have been thrown up in the lat­est up­dated as­sess­ment by the ICC Pros­e­cu­tor.

Both the IMN and the IPOB have been pro­scribed and des­ig­nated as ter­ror­ist or­gan­i­sa­tions by the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment on the ac­count of the groups’ al­leged vi­o­lent ac­tiv­i­ties.

A ju­di­cial in­quiry set up by the Kaduna State Gov­ern­ment to in­ves­ti­gate the De­cem­ber 2015 clash be­tween the IMN mem­bers and sol­diers in the con­voy of the Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Bu­ratai, con­cluded that the mil­i­tary killed 347 IMN mem­bers in Zaria, Kaduna State, the base of their leader, Sheikh Ibra­heem El-za­kzaky.

A few IPOB mem­bers were also said to have been killed dur­ing the Septem­ber 2017 Op­er­a­tion Python Dance II car­ried out by the Army to quell

the ag­i­ta­tion for se­ces­sion by the South-east group.

A sol­dier was said to have been killed dur­ing the IMN mem­bers’ clash with the Army in 2015 and IPOB mem­bers were also al­leged to have killed some mem­bers of the se­cu­rity forces on dif­fer­ent oc­ca­sions.

The ICC re­port stated in its 2019 re­port that it had re­ceived 15 com­mu­ni­ca­tions con­cern­ing the clashes and com­mu­nal vi­o­lence in the North-cen­tral and North-east.

While it said it had been re­view­ing the al­le­ga­tions, it ex­pressed con­cern about al­le­ga­tions of “on­go­ing ev­i­dence tam­per­ing and of al­leged de­struc­tion of ev­i­dence” in re­spect of the IMN mem­bers clash with the Army.

The re­port stated, “Dur­ing the re­port­ing pe­riod, the of­fice worked on fi­nal­is­ing its as­sess­ment on sub­ject-mat­ter ju­ris­dic­tion with re­spect to the events which took place in De­cem­ber 2015 in Zaria, Kaduna State, when mem­bers of the Is­lamic Move­ment of Nige­ria re­port­edly clashed with the NSF (Nige­rian se­cu­rity forces.

“Other al­le­ga­tions that the of­fice has been re­view­ing in­clude al­le­ga­tions with re­spect to the con­duct of the NSF against mem­bers of the In­dige­nous Peo­ple of Bi­afra and com­mu­nal vi­o­lence in Nige­ria’s North­cen­tral and North-east.”

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