ICC indicts Boko Haram for crimes against humanity

Abubakar Shekau, Boko Haram leader

The Nigerian government is considering amnesty for the group.

Members of the violent Islamist sect, Boko Haram, may soon be dragged to The Hague to face war crimes as the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Monday indicted the sect for crime against humanity for its widespread and systematic murder and persecution of civilians.

The report titled “Situation in Nigeria” says there is reasonably basis that since July 2009, the group that aims to spread radical Islam in Northern Nigeria has committed crime against humanity.

After this indictment, the ICC says the next step is to assess whether Nigerian government is working on “conducting genuine proceedings in relation to those who appear to bear the greatest responsibility for such crimes and the gravity of such crimes.”

The ICC investigation may run into trouble with the Nigerian government, as the federal government has constituted a committee negotiating peace and amnesty with the sect.

The ICC, however, has the power to prosecute cases that national courts of signatory nations are unwilling or unable to investigate or prosecute.

Nigeria ratified the ICC statute on September 27, 2001 giving the court jurisdiction to over crimes committed within Nigeria from 1 July 2002.

The report highlights various attacks on civilian population by the sect. It also described these attacks as systematic and widespread spanning over the entire North Eastern region as well as Plateau, Kogi, Kano, Bauchi and Kaduna States.

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True to the sect’s aim of Islamising the north, churches were singled out for constant attacks, the report noted. The report also concludes that the planning of this attacks shows they are products of organisational policy therefore qualifying them as crimes against humanity.

On the violence in the Niger Delta and confrontation between Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) and security forces, the report says there “does not appear to be a reasonable basis to believe that the alleged crimes committed in the Delta Region could constitute war crimes.”

It however says the situation may be revisited in the light of fresh facts and evidence.

On alleged crimes committed by soldiers fighting the Boko Haram, while the report acknowledges that serious human rights violations may have been committed, it concludes that they do not constitute crime against humanity.

“Information available as of December 2012 does not provide a reasonable basis to believe that the alleged crimes were committed pursuant to or in furtherance of a State or organizational policy to attack the civilian population,” it said.

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