THE recognition of the right to life is a global trend and not just a national phenomenon in Nigeria. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations General Assembly via Resolution 217, A (III) of December 10, 1948 has in its Column 1 covering Articles 3-11 the Right to Life accorded its priority. Article 3 is very emphatic:
“Every one has the right to life liberty and security of person.”
Similarly, of the three rights which are non-derogable under Article 4(2) of the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights adopted by the United Nations’ General Assembly Resolution 2200 A (XXI) of December 16, 1966, the Right to life is first as provided in Article 6 and the other two provided in Articles 7 and 8 being freedom from torture and slavery respectively are only to ensure the enjoyment of the right to life. Article 6 expressly provides:
“Every human being has the inherent right to life. This shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of right to his life.”
Equally, Article 4 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Right restates that old time rule of law that:
“Human beings are inviolable.”
It is upon this fundamental reality that proponents of the abolition of capital punishment argue that capital punishment is a violation of the right to life. We thus align ourselves with the right humane philosophy encapsulated in the words of Pope Pius XII in his 1951 papal encyclical:
“Every human being, even the child in the womb, has the right to life directly from God an not from his parents, not from any society or human authority. Therefore, there is no man, no society, no human authority, no science, no “indication” at all whether it be medical, eugenic, social, economic, judicial title for a direct deliberate disposal of an innocent human life.”
If we have surrendered our individuality to the collective good of the union for the protection of the sovereign, why are the Agatu people being massacred by known men freely walking our streets and nobody is saying something reasonably typical of a 21st humanist government. Within our criminal law books, the acts of the rampaging Fulani men over Agatu qualify for various offences ranging from those preparatory as conspiracy to the most heinous of them as murder or culpable homicide punishable with death yet every attempt aimed at rescuing the people have been majorly negotiation without arrest of even identified suspects.
Beyond the mucky waters of ethnocentric politics, ethno-religious bigotry and failed governance, we see clearly that of the four broadly defined offences under Article 5 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, three have been committed upon the people of Agatu by the Fulani herdsmen. These are crime of genocide, crime against humanity and the crime of aggression. Article 6 defines Genocide to mean acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as killing members of a group, causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group, deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or part, etc.Article 7 states that crime against humanity means any acts of murder, extermination, torture, enslavement, forced disappearance of people, deportation or forcible transfer of population, persecution etc committed as part of a widespread or systematic attack directed against any civilian population, with knowledge of the attack.
Nigeria is a party to this Statute and deposited its instrument of ratification on 27 September 2001 which qualifies the International Criminal Court (ICC) for exercise of its jurisdiction as specified under Article 12 of the Rome Statute. Nigeria therefore agrees in principle with the Rome Statute of the ICC in the following words of the Preamble that State Parties to the Statute:
Mindful that during this century millions of children, women and men have been victims of unimaginable atrocities that deeply shock the conscience of humanity;
Recognizing that such grave crimes threaten the peace, security and well-being of the world;
Affirming that the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole must not go unpunished and that their effective prosecution must be ensured by taking measures at the national level and by enhancing international cooperation;
Determined to put an end to impunity for the perpetrators of these crimes and thus to contribute to the prevention of such crimes.
Notwithstanding, the Nigerian Government and security agencies have not only become incriminated as passive but also active participants in the genocide against Agatu community as provided under Article 6 (d) of the Rome Statute by “deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or part”.
We hereby call on the Federal Government to urgently respond to the plight of the law abiding people of Agatu community who are writhing in the pain of physical and psychological injury inflicted upon them by the barbarism of the alleged Fulani herdsmen orchestrated by the gross negligence and lackluster ineptitude of the Nigerian Government and its security operatives otherwise we shall be compelled to seek audience with the ICC Prosecutor on this matter.