The International Criminal Court (ICC), The Hague, Netherlands, has commenced investigation of the multiple attacks of several communities across Nigeria by Fulani herdsmen, which culminated in loss of lives and destruction of property. The ICC commenced the investigation of the Fulani herdsmen assaults after receiving a petition from Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA).
The National Coordinator of HURIWA, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, and Miss Zainab Yusuf, National Media Affairs Director ofHuman Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, in a statement, indicated that the association received a letter from the International Criminal Court, notifying the group of the investigation.
HURIWA National Coordinator remarked that the ICC letter dated 15th August, 2017; signed by Mark .P. Dillon, Head of the information and Evidence Unit, Office of the Prosecutor, was a response to the petition HURIWA sent to the global human rights court, demanding action to prosecute sponsors of the armed Fulani herdsmen since President Muhammadu Buhari has, in two years, declined to initiate legal proceedings to sanction the mass murderers.
In the HURIWA petition to I.C.C, dated September 15th, 2016, the group had invited the ICC to investigate the perennial killings in Nigeria by armed Fulani herdsmen; and to take action to bring the perpetrators to international justice, since the current Nigerian Government is doing nothing to address the issues in accordance with Nigerian laws.
HURIWA petition to I.C.C
HURIWA in its petition titled: Unlawful Homicide under Nigerian Laws and the Obligation of the Nigerian State to Enforce the Laws, protested as follows:
“It is with trepidation that we address this letter to your office and to pray that you carry out investigation to put a stop to the numerous killings going on in Nigeria.”
“We are a reputable Non-governmental organization that has been on ground in Nigeria for almost a decade. We will let you know who we are in greater details towards the end of this letter. We will like your good office to investigate the killings of Igbo Youth who belong purportedly to the Indigenous People of Biafra. We also invite your office to investigate the incessant killings of farmers by armed Fulani herdsmen and the suspected support the Nigerian government provide for these killings to continue.”
“The International Criminal Court is obliged as a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council to demand that the Nigerian State take concrete measures to punish perpetrators of sectarian killings which have become widespread and which has resulted in the widening apprehension and anxieties amongst Christians who feel that the government which is currently controlled by a Moslem and with all the major security and Defence positions manned by Moslem appointees of President Muhammadu Buhari that the Christians are no longer safe in some parts of Nigeria”.
“Sir we know that ICC is aware that World powers provides technical and funding assistance for the training of Nigerian Security Forces and this fact makes it imperative that ICC should call those governments to order so those governments take practical diplomatic measures to ensure that democracy is not undermined in Nigeria and to demand an end to the specters of killings in Nigeria. We will now address the issue of the most gruesome evidence of crimes against humanity which the ICC must investigate and bring the perpetrators to justice. We are talking about the Agatu killings”.
In the response from international criminal court, HURIWA was told that a similar petition that had been filed and that the matter is already undergoing preliminary examination by the office of the Chief prosecutor.
ICC response to HURIWA
The I.C.C letter to HURIWA stated as follows:
“ On behalf of the prosecutor, I thank you for your communication received on 15 /09/2016, as well as any subsequent related information.”
“It appears that your communication relates to a situation already under preliminary examination by the office of the prosecutor. According, your communication will be analyzed in this context, with the assistance of other related communications and other available information.”
“Under Article 53 of the Rome Statue, the prosecutor must consider whether there is a reasonable basis to believe that crimes within jurisdiction of the court have been committed, the gravity of the crimes, whether national systems are investigating and prosecuting the relevant crimes, and the interest of justice. Analysis will be carried out as possible, but please be aware that meaningful analysis of these factors can take some time.”
“As soon as a decision is taken on whether there is a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation, we will advise you promptly and we will promptly reasons for the decision.”
“We thank you for your interest in the ICC. If you would like to learn more about the ICC, please consult our website at www.icc-cpi.int. If you would like to learn more about how the Office carries out analysis of information, please see our policy paper on preliminary examinations, on the Office webpage at the website above.”