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ACN, activists: Jonathan should face Criminal Court

Written By Joseph Y. Musa on Friday, April 26, 2013 | 4/26/2013 10:57:00 am

The Defence Headquarters dispatched yesterday a fact-finding mission to Baga, the border town 180 kilometres north of Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, where 185 peoples were killed last
The massacre drew more flaks from a cross-session of the society yesterday.

Majority of the dead were women and children.

In Yobe State yesterday, 25 people died in a battle between security forces and Boko Haram insurgents.

The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) described the attacks on the civilian population as crimes against humanity, which it said should attract the attention of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The party said the intervention of the ICC became necessary because the Federal Government has not demonstrated enough willingness to bring the masterminds of the killings to book.

It said the killings in the North, especially the latest at Baga, fall within the temporal jurisdiction of the global court.

In a statement issued in Lagos by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party said far beyond the justifiable call for a judicial commission of inquiry into the massacre, the time has come to hold to account the leaders under whose watch these killings are being perpetrated.

The statement reads: “The killings in Baga, like previous ones in the areas where Boko Haram and the military Joint Task Force (JTF) have been engaged in clashes, are undoubtedly a widespread or systematic attack against a civilian population – the definition of crimes against humanity, which is one of the four groups of crimes under the jurisdiction of the ICC.

“Those engaged in the killings, including the Boko Haram sect, cannot and must not get away with these heinous crimes. The only reasons that the killing and maiming of innocent citizens have continued unabated in Nigeria is because such killings in the past, either in Odi, Bayelsa State, or in Zaki-Biam, Benue State, under the watch of the then President Olusegun Obasanjo, went unpunished.

‘’Enough is enough! Even in countries at war, innocent citizens are not being daily mowed to death either by insurgents or state forces, as we are experiencing in Nigeria. It is clear that the Nigerian government is either unwilling or unable to prosecute these crimes, despite the deceptive assurances by those at the helm, hence the ICC must immediately beam its search-light on the situation in Nigeria.

‘’While we are aware that the killings in Odi and Zaki Biam occurred before July 1, 2002, when the Rome Statute setting up the ICC came into force, the killings in the North, especially at Baga, fall within the temporal jurisdiction of the global court.”

The party blamed the Baga killings on President Goodluck Jonathan, who it accused of failing to distinguish between support for security agencies battling the insurgents in the North and the incitement of the same forces against civilians who are caught in the crossfire.

It said: “When the President issued his tactless vituperations against community leaders, and by extension hapless civilians, during his visit to Borno and Yobe States, we warned that he was further victimising the victims of the insurgents’ attack. That action helped to set the stage for the mindless massacre in Baga.

“According to a statement signed by the Director of Defence Information Brig-Gen Chris Olukolade, the military delegation to Baga is being led by Maj-Gen Lawrence Ngubani, the Chief of Training and Operations (CTOPS) in the DHQ.

The DHQ statement said the Multi National Joint Task Force troops on routine patrol in Baga, Malam Garati Road, had an encounter with some members of the Boko Haram at about 7.30pm on April 16.

According to the statement, a soldier was killed and five others injured in the confrontation.

It stated that 30 Boko Haram terrorists died five were arrested and many escaped with bullet wounds.

The release also stated that six civilians were killed and 10 others were injured in the crossfire.

But some clerics urged the military to apply the rules of engagement in tackling insurgency, with a view to avoiding civilian casualty.
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