A Nigerian based pro-democracy, human rights and justice sector group, Global Integrity Crusade Network (GICN), has condemned in strongest possible terms what it described as the attempt by the International Criminal Court (ICC) to blackmail the Nigerian Armed Forces and other security forces presently fighting the war against terrorism in some parts of Northern Nigeria.
While speaking to newsmen in Abuja today, the Compliance Officer of the group, Barrister Peter Alake noted with bitterness that ICC under the leadership of Madame Fatou Bensouda as Chief Prosecutor is beginning to lose focus from being the international court of last resort for the common man that it used to be.
According to Alake, the planned move to investigate Nigerian security forces for so called “crimes against humanity” and war crimes is a shot in the dark, caricature and headless task which will yield no useful results. It rather exposed the ICC as giving tacit cover to Boko Haram terrorists so they can continually perpetrate their dastardly acts against innocent citizens. He added that Amnesty International, a crisis merchant with headquarters in London, United Kingdom over the years hoodwinked ICC into believing that the Nigerian Army being at the forefront of the counter-insurgency war violated rules of engagement in Northern Nigeria by abusing the rights of unarmed civilians.
In his words; “We at GICN are not unaware of the antics of Amnesty International which is being used by their paymasters in the Middle East to destroy Nigeria. They practically resorted to the continuous writing of damaging reports and petitions against the Nigerian Army years ago. On several occasions, Amnesty International accused our security agencies before the ICC of using brutal force and human rights violations while turning a blind eye to the nefarious activities of Boko Haram terrorists which have led to the death of more than 20,000 Nigerians since the year 2012”.
The group wondered why the Chief Prosecutor of ICC will choose to direct her powers towards distracting the military, and by extension, President Muhammadu Buhari led Federal Government of Nigeria from sustaining the gains so far recorded in restoring peace and security to Northern Nigeria. Obviously, Boko Haram terrorists are known for using the unconventional strategy of launching attacks on soft targets. This makes it extremely difficult to identify and isolate its members; hence attempts to repel them had often cost security agencies the lives of many personnel. We are therefore worried that the International Criminal Court is insisting that terrorists should be treated with kid’s glove and probably served tea at the theatre of war, even as they unleash mayhem on military officers.
Alake stated further; “As far as we are concerned, the hasty stance taken by Madame Fatou Bensouda as Chief Prosecutor of ICC to open investigation against the military points to pre-conviction. It has not been shown to our satisfaction that Nigerian Courts are unable to handle any human rights litigation that may have emanated from military-civilian relationship. What the Chief Prosecutor of ICC has done by her lopsided report gives us reason to suspect that she is part of the grand conspiracy to subtly expand neo-colonialist tendencies in Nigeria purely for selfish gains. The bitter truth is that ICC has found the African Continent a fertile ground for its sort of imperialist campaign. If we may ask; for how long will ICC continue to bully Nigeria with reports and threats of prosecution as though we are not a sovereign nation? To what extent has the self-serving ICC frowned at terrorist groups such as Boko Haram, Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN)”?
“Let it be known that the attempt by enemies of Nigeria using ICC to destabilize our democracy through promotion of insecurity and reckless killings in various parts of the country will never work. We shall vehemently resist any attempt at dampening the morale of our military forces and strengthening the terrorists. As a group made up of patriotic citizens, GICN has resolved to do everything possible to defend democracy in Nigeria not minding the cost. We submit that Fatou Bensouda, the ICC Chief Prosecutor, erred in her Annual Report on Preliminary Examination Activities (2018) wherein she posited that there is a reasonable basis to believe that Nigerian Security Forces committed crimes punishable under various Sections of the Rome Statute 2002. Judges of the International Criminal Court who have the final voting power must not grant approval for further harassment of our dear country”.
On the whole, we encourage the ever gallant Chief of Army Staff and leader of the counter insurgency war in Nigeria, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai to remain focused on the task at his hand. The soldiers who laid down their own lives that we may sleep with our two eyes closed are highly appreciated. We want them to be assured that our prayers are with them, especially at this crucial period when they are working round the clock to rescue Nigerian students abducted from the all-boys Government Science School in Kankara District, Katsina State on Friday, December 11, 2020.