Petitioner says attacks were premeditated,
alleges official cover upTobi Soniyi in Abuja
A United Kingdom-based non-profit organisation, the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) has asked the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to conduct a preliminary investigation into the attacks on members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) in Zaria on December 12 and 13, 2016.
It attached the list of members of IMN believed to be dead, (216) and those in detention (219) and those still missing (480) and said the list was still being updated, and did not reflect the total number of casualties on December 12 and 13, 2015.
In the petition, a copy of which was obtained by THISDAY, the group alleged that the Nigerian Army carried out massive attacks on December 12 and 13, 2015 which targeted IMN members in Zaria.
It claimed that the army committed crimes against humanity during the attacks and that the Nigerian authorities were unwilling to investigate and prosecute those who committed the alleged crimes.
”The operation resulted in the deaths of at least 1,000 unarmed civilians, mostly IMN members, killed by gunshots attributed to soldiers. Hundreds more were injured. There were reports that the military blocked access to medical care for the injured and shot at and killed wounded persons. Witnesses and victims reported signs of widespread force and cruelty with allegations of looting, arson, mutilation, mass graves, torture, rape and other inhumane acts levelled at the Nigerian Army.
“The crimes committed between the 12th and 14th December 2015 in Zaria, Kaduna State, by the Nigerian Army amounted to crimes against humanity.
“The crimes committed by the Nigerian Army meet all the necessary legal requirements to warrant a preliminary investigation by the ICC prosecutor.“
It stated that there was evidence and eyewitness accounts which further indicated that such massive acts of violence were carried out in the context of a widespread and systematic attack against the Nigerian civilian population.
“The violence unleashed on members of the IMN has a history and it is a history of premeditation. There is also sufficient evidence to suggest an official plan by Nigerian government officials to cover up these crimes and indeed perpetuate the same,” the petition stated.
Nigeria deposited its instrument of ratification to the Rome Statute on September 27, 2001. The ICC therefore has jurisdiction over Rome Statute crimes committed on the territory of Nigeria or by its nationals from July 1, 2002 onwards.
It said: “The crimes of the Nigerian Army meet all the relevant criteria to warrant further investigation by the prosecutor of the ICC.
“In view of the above, IHRC calls on the Prosecutor to open a preliminary investigation proprio motu on the incidents reported.”
IHRC said based on the evidence collected so far, it recommended the following:
•The ICC prosecutor should open a preliminary examination into the incidents that occurred between December 12 and 14, 2015 in Zaria, Kaduna State.
•Demands that the office of the posecutor expand its monitoring activities on Nigeria and the army’s involvement in attacks against the IMN that occurred in the period between 2014 and 2015. Indeed, Nigeria is already under preliminary investigation by the prosecutor in relation to Boko Haram.
•Calls on the prosecutor to issue a preventive statement saying that he is monitoring the Nigerian crisis and is aware of the commission of crimes and warn the perpetrators about their criminal.