Femi Falana: ICC has agreed to commence probe into IPOB, Shiite killings

Lagos lawyer and human rights activist, Femi Falana

International embarrassment is coming for the Nigerian government over its perceived refusal to prosecute those involved in extra-judicial killings in the country, leading rights lawyer, Femi Falana, disclosed on Sunday.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has concluded arrangement, according to Falana, to take over the prosecutorial responsibility, starting with preliminary investigations into the alleged extra-judicial killings of members of the Shiites movement and the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).

The deaths were mainly by the hands of agents of the Nigerian security community, while none had been prosecuted, despite several indictments.

Falana said: “Owing to the refusal of the Federal Government to act on these reports by prosecuting those who bear full responsibility for such egregious human rights infringements, the office of the Special Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court has concluded arrangements to open preliminary investigation into allegations of crimes against humanity concerning the extrajudicial killings of members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) and Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).

“It is hoped that the Federal Government will not allow Nigeria to be exposed to international opprobrium for her unwillingness and inability to prosecute the indicted murder suspects.”

Falana, who fired a fresh salvo at the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, over rights issues in the country, tasked the Muhammadu Buhari administration on the prosecution of thousands of suspects allegedly detained by various security agencies without trial.

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Globally and locally, the Federal Government has scored low on respect for fundamental human rights, constitutional freedom and obedience to court orders.

Moving from addressing the specificity of cases involving the former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki and media personality and politician, Omoyele Sowore, Falana stated that “In as much as the eventual release of Sowore and Dasuki is appreciated, it ought to be pointed out that this is a mere tip of the iceberg. If the Federal Government has genuinely decided to embrace the rule of law, it has to comply with all valid and subsisting court orders and respect the human rights of the Nigerian people.

“As a matter of urgency, the justice minister should direct the authorities of the Nigeria Police Force, Nigeria Correctional Service, State Security Service, armed forces, anti-graft agencies and other law enforcement agencies to either release or prosecute the thousands of criminal suspects including terror suspects that have been incarcerated for months without trial. The detaining authorities should also be prohibited from parading suspects and subjecting them to physical and mental torture in contravention of the provisions of section 2 of the Anti Torture Act, 2017.

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“Furthermore, the council of the National Human Rights Commission, which was dissolved in 2015, should be reconstituted by the president on the recommendation of the Minister of Justice. In June last year, President Buhari directed the office of the Attorney-General, the Inspector General of Police and the National Human Rights Commission to carry out the reforms of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the police within three months. It is high time the directive was carried out.

“The Georgewill Judicial Commission of Inquiry, which investigated human rights abuse in the armed forces, submitted its report in February 2018. The Federal Government should issue a white paper on the report forthwith.

“The Garba Judicial Commission of Inquiry which investigated the military invasion of Zaria in December 2015 recommended the prosecution of the military officers who massacred 347 Shiites and buried their bodies in a mass grave. The indicted suspects should be charged with culpable homicide at the Kaduna State High Court without any further delay.”

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