A Matter for ICC


The International Criminal Court expresses readiness to try Boko Haram terrorists for crime against humanity

|  By Maureen Chigbo  |  Aug. 19, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT

THE federal government efforts to attract global cooperation in the fight against Boko Haram terrorist has gained international attention. The International Criminal Court, ICC, said August 5, that the violent sect has committed acts against humanity in Nigeria. It also wants to prosecute the Boko Haram members arrested by the federal government. The ICC’s report has also been hailed by some Christian groups while others have expressed their reservation.

The office of the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, ICC, on Monday, August 5, said that there is reason to believe that crimes against humanity have been committed in Nigeria, namely murder and persecution by the militant group known as Boko Haram. A report issued by the office of the Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, found that the group has, since July 2009, “launched a widespread and systematic attack that has resulted in the killing of more than 1,200 Christian and Muslim civilians in different locations throughout Nigeria.  “The scale and intensity of the attacks have increased over time,” adds the report, which is based on preliminary information through December 2012.

The ICC Prosecutor’s Office said that it was now assessing whether the national authorities are conducting genuine proceedings in relation “to those who appear to bear the greatest responsibility for such crimes, and the gravity of such crimes.” It added that the prosecutor is still assessing three other phases of the situation in Nigeria, and once completed, will decide if a situation meets the legal criteria established by the Rome Statute – the Court’s founding treaty – to warrant an investigation by the ICC.


During the timeframe of the report, Ban Ki-moon, UN secretary-general and the office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, OHCHR, repeatedly warned Boko Haram against attacks on civilians. However, the Christian Association of Nigerian-Americans, CANAN, has welcomed the outcome of the ICC preliminary reports determining clearly that Boko Haram should be tried for commiting crimes against humanity and persecution against Nigerian Christians and others.

A statement from CANAN Secretariat August 6, in New York, said: “CANAN is glad that there is a legitimate international legal entity which will ensure that justice is done in this matter. We are encouraged that at a time when a federal minister of the Nigerian government has been making unsubstantiated claims about Boko Haram’s ceasefire aimed at forging an amnesty deal for the perpetrators of grave crimes against humanity, the ICC has risen to the occasion in the interest of justice.

In the statement signed by Laolu Akande, a pastor and executive director, CANAN, noted that it would continue to advocate against terrorism in Nigeria, in alliance with other global agencies and in collaboration with the ICC. “We shall continue to follow and support the ICC process all the way to its logical conclusion.”

On the other hand, Ambrose Okoh, bishop of the Anglican Communion, is of the view that the federal government should try the arrested terrorists and not hand them over to be tried by the ICC. He premised his argument on the fact that Nigeria has competent courts and legal instruments to undertake such trial as a sovereign country.

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