By Solomon Elusoji andÂ Sarah Agbamuche
About 20 Nigerian Army Prosecutors have undergone a three-day training with an objective to address their capacity to address serious and complex crimes under Nigerian criminal law, including those crimes that potentially fall under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court.
The training, which held at the Southern Sun hotel, Ikoyi, was organised by the Wayamo Foundation, Africa Group for Justice and Accountability (AGJA), the International Nuremberg Principles Academy, and financially supported by the Ford Foundation.
Speaking at the trainingâ€™s opening ceremony, the Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai, who approved the training of the 20 Prosecutors and was represented at the ceremony by the Army Provost Marshal, Brigadier-General Ayuba Hamman, noted that although the country is bedevilled with complex criminal cases, the Nigerian Army will continue to press for justice and prosecute rights abuses committed by its own soldiers.
Hamman also reiterated the need for continuous training of skilled manpower to further bring about efficient justice system, both in the civil and military system. He also commended the organisers ofÂ the training for the initiative, saying the Nigerian Military will continue to partner with them.
The Director, Wayamo Foundation, Bettina Ambach, explained that the increase of crime committed beyond boundaries necessitated the need to enlighten the military about the modalities of international law as Nigeria is yet to utilize the provisions of the International Court of Law, even as a member.
â€œAfter two highly successful events for civil prosecutors held in Abuja and in Lagos in December, 2015 and March, 2017, this workshop was organised in collaboration with the Chief of Army Staff to set the standard for prosecutions of serious international crimes in future,â€ Ambach said.
Meanwhile, the Armyâ€™s Director of Legal Services, General Yusuf Shalangwa, stated categorically that no army official has ever been found guilty of war crimes, except for cowardice and non performance of duties.
The facilitators of the training, pulled from a global pool, include a Professor of Public International Law, University of Oxford, Dapo Akande, a former Attorney General of Ekiti State and Chair of the Nigerian Military Human Rights Dialogue, Olawale Fapohunda, A Fellow of the Human Rights Centre at the University of Essex and Retired Colonel of the United Kingdom Army Legal Services, Charles Garraway, among others.