Chris Steven, Abuja
A human rights group in Nigeria, the Save Humanity Advocacy Centre has faulted the timing of a request from the International Criminal Court, requesting explanations from the Federal Government of Nigeria on clashes between the military and some known terrorists groups in the country as ill-timed, suspicious and deliberate attempt by moles at large to allow Boko Haram a breathing space in Nigeria.
Addressing a press conference in Abuja on Wednesday, SHAC’s Executive Director, Investigation and Public Communication, Lawrence Audu said it is suspicious that the publication of the interim findings by the Office of the Prosecutor at the ICC were strategically timed to coincide with the time when the military is closing in on the final end to Boko Haram.
Audu raised concern that cases of other criminal activities escaping appropriate security responses are on the increase because security operatives are being blackmailed with reports such as that of the ICC.
He said the ICC has not taken into consideration the safety of the wider Nigerian population and the threats posed by the IMN and IPoB while making its demand.
He therefore urged the Nigerian Attorney General to immediately marshal the necessary arguments, based on international instruments, on why the ICC should not constitute itself into extremist and terrorist promoting entity in Nigeria.
He said it is even more surprising nothing in the preliminary investigation highlighted the crimes committed by IMN and IPoB was mentioned, despite how they continued to dare the Nigerian state by threatening and hurting other citizens, whether physically, economically or psychologically.
Mr Audu said Nigerians are worried that the kind of impunity on the part of those cashing in on the ICC’s backing has restrained security agencies to a point where they are unable to robustly end the menace of rampaging killers operating as herdsmen.
He said, “This is why we hold that publication of the interim findings by the Office of the Prosecutor were strategically timed to coincide with the time when the military and security agencies are making progress in the counter-insurgency war.
“The threat of ICC is consequently planned to instill fear in soldiers so that Boko Haram can use the period of distraction to regroup – this strategy has been repeated countless times using international NGOs. It is either that this is meant to blackmail Nigeria into growing soft with terrorists and extremists or that it meant to revive the contained extremist and terrorist groups by using the interim findings to confer quasi-legitimacy on them.”
He said Nigerians are also worried that the Office of the Prosecutor could have relied on the opinion of compromised entities that gathered information based on their selfish interest and agenda to make Nigeria into a war zone.
He said further, “The concern here is why other countries are allowed to deal with their existential threats while Nigeria is expected to allow such threats fester because there are some entities that place the rights of criminals above those of their victims.
“We have asked in the past: do the victims not have rights too? Do the security personnel, attacked and killed by these terrorists, not entitled to human rights too? What stood terrorists above everyday citizens that they get ICC protection while their victims are left helpless?”
He therefore urged the Office of the Prosecutor to discard it’s interim findings in the interest of world peace, stressing that the Office should jettison it and gather facts afresh – facts that are not tainted by crisis contractors that plant reports to immorally indict authorities.