A coalition of Yoruba self-determination groups and activists have petitioned the International Criminal Court (ICC) with purported evidence of violent crimes they blamed herders for in Nigeria’s Southwestern region, accusing the Muhammadu Buhari administration of complicity.
The petition contains discriminatory language, like describing the Fulani group as “alien non-native”; derogatory words like using “subjects” to describe non-Fulani northern citizens; and misinformation, including using at least one fake video.
The petition was filed last Thursday and acknowledged by the Office of the Prosecutor at the Hague this Tuesday, copies seen by PREMIUM TIMES showed. A Nigerian lawyer based in the U.S., Aderemilekun Omojola, authored and submitted the petition for the lead group, Yoruba Strategy Alliance, and about 25 others.
.They said they acted following “severe ongoing existential violence and insecurity suffered by the Yoruba,” blaming violent herders and the Nigerian government.
Violence associated with the Fulani pastoralism, which remains largely unrestricted rather than settled form, has intensified over the years.
But beyond grazing-related violence, herders are blamed for the spiraling cases of abductions in parts of Nigeria, including the South-west and the North-west, where, particularly, armed banditry has had a war-grade impact.
While there are ongoing military operations against the bandits in the North-west, many in the South-west commonly accuse the government of not doing enough to prevent attacks, causing calls for resort to self-help.
One of the signatories to the petition, Sunday “Igboho” Adeyemo, had mobilised a mob to forcibly uproot the Fulani families in Igangan Town of Oyo State after accusing their leader, Abdulkadir Salihu, of masterminding killings and abductions in the area.
Mr Salihu denied the allegations and PREMIUM TIMES, based on on-the-ground reporting in Igangan, found that Mr Adeyemo may have used some misinformation to drive up anti-Fulani sentiments and innocent persons may have suffered. The deadly night attack of June 6, believed to be Fulani reprisal, then followed.
Mr Adeyemo’s Ibadan residence was raided by the State Security Service at the beginning of the month. Two of his men were killed and 13 arrested. The SSS said they found firearms in his house and declared him wanted but Mr Adeyemo said the arms were planted by the secret service, saying he only used charms to protect himself.
But he had repeatedly made open boasts about arms possession and threatened those opposed to his secessionist agitations or call for calm, including the Ooni of Ile-Ife, Enitan Ogunwusi.
Prominent senior lawyer, Afe Babalola, said the raid on Mr Adeyemo’s residence was unconstitutional. Another senior lawyer, Femi Falana, also criticised the raid.
In the Hague petition, co-signed by Mr Adeyemo, ICC prosecutor is urged to investigate the Nigerian government and security officials including Mr Buhari, for allegedly aiding armed herders to attack the Yoruba people.
“This communication has been duly entered in the Communications Register of the Office. We will give consideration to this communication, as appropriate, in accordance with the provisions of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court,” Mark Dillon, Head of Information & Evidence Unit Office of The Prosecutor, wrote in the July 13 acknowledgement letter.
“Please note this acknowledgement letter does not mean an investigation has been opened, nor that an investigation will be opened by the Office of the Prosecutor.”
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