The International Criminal Court has concluded plans to investigate the military and the Boko Haram insurgents for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
The ICC stated that it has found a reasonable basis to believe that members of the Nigerian security forces and the insurgents have committed murder, rape, torture, and cruel treatment, including enforced disappearance and hostage -taking.
The ICC Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, disclosed on Friday, that preliminary investigations also indicate that the military equally carried out the forcible transfer of population outrages upon personal dignity; intentionally directing attacks against the civilian population and individual civilians not taking direct part in hostilities.
The Prosecutor’s Office has investigated war crimes in multiple jurisdictions since 2003, including in Uganda; the Democratic Republic of the Congo; Darfur, Sudan; the Central African Republic Kenya; Libya; Côted’Ivoire; Mali; Georgia; Burundi, Bangladesh/Myanmar and Afghanistan.
Bensouda in a statement also alleged that the troops engaged in unlawful imprisonment, conscripting and enlisting children under the age of 15 years into the armed forces and using them to participate actively in hostilities, persecution on gender and political grounds, and other inhumane acts.
The prosecutor explained that the statutory criteria for opening an investigation into the security situation had been met, paving the way for a full-blown probe of the allegations against the members of the security forces engaged in counter-insurgency operations in the North – East.
This is happening five days after Amnesty International said that the military and the insurgents have killed many aged citizens at disproportionate levels due to their inability to flee attacks.
In a 67 – page report titled “My heart is in pain” Older people’s experience of conflict, displacement, and detention in North – East Nigeria, the rights group disclosed that older people were killed both by the terrorist group and the military
The officer of the ICC prosecutor had announced its findings on crimes in Nigeria since 2013 and about two months ago, promised to conduct a preliminary investigation into the conduct of security operatives in the country.
Bensouda disclosed that the duration of the preliminary examination, open since 2010, was due to the priority given by her Office in supporting the Nigerian authorities in investigating and prosecuting the crimes domestically.
Bensouda stated that the allegations are sufficiently grave to warrant investigation by her Office, both in quantitative and qualitative terms, noting that she would provide further details in the forthcoming annual Report on Preliminary Examination Activities.
“Moving forward, the next step will be to request authorisation from the Judges of the Pre -Trial Chamber of the Court to open investigations,” she said.