*calls for consideration of facts against Boko Haram, IMN others
By KATO P. LADAN, Kaduna
Contrary to preliminary examination activities by the International Criminal Court that its prosecutor could press three cases against the Nigerian government, the Global Amnesty Watch (GWA) has commended the Nigerian government for its effort in tackling threats to humanity.
The international humanitarian organization made this known on Tuesday in a detailed report opposing ICC’s recent report with a view to put issues in proper perspective.
Among others, the international tribunal listed Nigeria as one of the countries being probed for alleged war and international human rights crimes.
On the opposite, however, Global Amnesty Watch believes the Nigerian authorities have done sufficiently well in its prosecution of the war against terrorism in Nigeria.
In the report signed by John Tom Lever, Africa Representative, GAW acknowledged some challenges were faced along the way but prompt and counter measures were put in place.
The Global Amnesty Watch added that the issues identified by the ICC are those already addressed by a presidential panel of inquiry and found the military innocent.
After thoroughly examining the facts, the group concluded that indeed the Nigerian military lived up to expectation and the position of the ICC is “misleading and not a reflection of the reality on the ground”.
In the interest of fairness to all, Global Amnesty Watch, therefore, called on ICC to investigate Boko Haram, IMN and others over war crimes.
Read full report below:
The International Criminal Court, in its 2019 edition of the annual report on preliminary examination activities, identified three cases that could be pressed against Nigerian authorities as issued by the Office of its prosecutor headed by Mrs. Fatou Bensouda.
The report amongst a host of others listed Nigeria as one of the countries being probed for alleged war and international human rights crimes. The possible crimes against the Nigerian Security and Civilian Joint Task Force include killings, torture or ill-treatment of military-aged males suspected to be Boko Haram members or supporters in the North East. The report also identified attacks against civilian populations and recruitment and use of children under 15 to participate in hostilities.
The Position of the Global Amnesty Watch:
The Global Amnesty Watch as an international humanitarian organization with a mandate of serving as that watchdog on Human Rights compliance by governments and organizations around the world decries the methodology employed by the ICC in arriving at most of the findings in its report, especially that aspects that relates to the Nigerian military and its prosecution of the war against terrorism in North-East Nigeria.
The position of the ICC is at best misleading and not a reflection of the reality on the ground because of its failure to recognize appropriate mechanisms put in place by the Nigerian authorities to ensure that cases of excessive use of forces, human rights violations and other sundry issues by Nigerian military personnel are addressed.
Special Board of Inquiry:
The ICC may wish to recall that the Nigerian Army had indeed constituted a Special Board of Inquiry headed by Major General A.T. Jibrin, rtd, which investigated the cases of misdemeanour by officers and men of the Nigerian Army in the fight against terrorism in North-East Nigeria and other security operations in the South-Eastern part of Nigeria.
The Global Amnesty Watch as a stakeholder is privy to the content of the report and in times past called for it to be given wide publication in an attempt to put to rest the controversies that had raged around the efforts of the Nigerian military to secure the country and keep its citizens safe from terrorist and other militant groups in the country.
Presidential Investigative Panel:
In the aftermath of public outcry in human rights violations against the Nigerian Military in respect to the IMN and IPOB, a presidential investigative panel was instituted by the Nigerian government and headed by Justice Georgewill Biobele to review extant rules of engagement applicable in the Armed Forces and the extent of compliance with them. The panel sat in Enugu, Abuja, Maiduguri, Kaduna and Port Harcourt and received several petitions from individuals, groups and CSOs. The IPOB and their lawyers made presentations in Enugu, southeast Nigeria during which several alleged cases of military brutality were heard. It must be stated that cases as far back as 2007 were also presented at the panel.
The Global Amnesty Watch is aware that the Presidential Panel, in its submission, exonerated the Nigerian Military of all allegations of human rights violations against IPOB and the IMN.
The Boko Haram crisis that has ravaged most parts of North-East Nigeria is indeed as worrisome as it sounds. Regardless of the nefarious activities of the terror group, the Global Amnesty Watch can state that the operations of the Nigerian Military in the zone have been characterized by compliance with the rules of engagement in war situations. This much the Global Amnesty Watch has stated in its various reports on the activities of the Nigeria military in North-East Nigeria.
The much was also stated when a special rapporteur from Global Amnesty Watch commended the Nigerian Military for displaying effective coordination against Boko Haram terrorists in North-East Nigeria amidst conspiracy. This came about after a systematic tour of select communities, which included Chibok, Gwoza, and Madagali.
The findings of the Special Rapporteur revealed that the government of Nigeria has continued to review the rules of engagement to ensure that actions of troops are in tandem with the Nigerian Armed Forces published rules of engagement.
The Islamic Movement in Nigeria:
The position of the Global Amnesty Watch on the activities of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) has been documented in a series of reports made available to the public. The military action of December 2015, between the Nigerian Army and the IMN referenced by the ICC, has been investigated by the Global Amnesty Watch to ascertain cases of Human Rights violations by the Nigerian Army.
This was corroborated by the setting up of a Special Commission of Inquiry by the Kaduna State Government. The findings of the Special Commission of Inquiry made substantial revelations on the cause of the clash between the Nigerian Army and the IMN. The Global Amnesty Watch scrutinized this much, and a conclusion was reached that there was indeed a threat to the life of the Chief of Army Staff, whose convoy was ambushed in Zaria by IMN members on a procession.
It must be noted that there were several other instances where the IMN as an organization exhibited violent tendencies manifest in street protests in most parts of the country that resulted in deaths and destructions of properties. However, it must be stated that there were some established cases of human rights violations on the part of the Nigerian Military, and the Global Amnesty Watch did raise the alarm, which eventually led to disciplinary actions taken against such erring officers. And not in the magnitude the ICC is presenting.
Indigenous People of Biafra:
The agitations of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) are one that should be a source of concern to all stakeholders. This much has been stated in numerous forums where the Global Amnesty Watch engaged stakeholders in Nigeria. Their agitations in most times result in violent confrontations with security operatives with little or minimal provocation.
The Global Amnesty Watch has indeed frowned at situations where groups have refused to be guided by the recognized constituted authorities in the country, which is indeed always a recipe for breakdown of law and order. This much was highlighted in the ICC report, but missing in crucial details as to how and what led to the confrontations with the security operatives.
It must be stated that there were instances where the security agencies deployed the excessive force in arresting threats posed by IPOB; the Global Amnesty Watch has roundly condemned such displays. However, it is our considered opinion that this act or actions should not form a basis for the ICC to press charges against the Nigerian Authorities.
The focus instead should be on these organizations that have taken laws into their own hands by constituting themselves into parallel governments threatening peace and tranquility in most instances.
We wish to state that due to the magnitude of the conflict caused by the IMN and IPOB, as stated earlier the leaders of the IMN, Sheik Ibraheem EL-Zar-zarky, as well as Nnamdi Kanu are standing trial in various courts in Nigeria on charges of terrorism brought forward by the Nigerian government. This is also cognizant of the fact that the Global Amnesty Watch is in receipt of evidence that the International Criminal Court is investigating the IMN and IPOB for war crimes due to the level of violence that has occasioned their activities in Nigeria.
The Global Amnesty Watch wishes to put on record that the issues identified by the ICC are the very issues that a presidential panel of inquiry has addressed and found the military innocent. In the few cases where breaches were noticed, personnel have been decisively dealt with and it would only amount to double jeopardy for anyone to be sanctioned for one offense twice anywhere in the world.
It is thus our considered opinion that the Nigerian Military has indeed lived up to expectation in its prosecution of the war against terrorism in Nigeria. It must be stated that no society or endeavour is 100% perfect, but in instances where measures are instituted to check abuses or overzealousness must be commended and not crucified.
This is aside the fact that the Global Amnesty Watch is eagerly awaiting the outcome of the ICC investigation on the IMN and IPOB for war crimes in the interest of fairness to all