The International Criminal Court (ICC) has said it has received “a total of 169 communications” from Nigeria and its assessment has shown that security forces in Nigeria have committed several war crimes.
Backstory: The ICC has said that Nigerian security forces have committed various war crimes including murder, torture, and intentionally attacking civilian populations.
“Specifically, the Office found a reasonable basis to believe that the Nigeria Security Forces (NSF) committed the war crimes of murder pursuant to article 8(2)(c)(i); torture, cruel treatment pursuant to article 8(2)(c)(i); outrages upon personal dignity pursuant to article 8(2)(c)(ii); and intentionally directing attacks against the civilian population,” the ICC said.
Fatou Bensouda, the ICC prosecutor, in her annual report on preliminary examination activities (2018), also said the ICC found a reasonable basis to believe that Boko Haram also committed war crimes against humanity.
The ICC added that Boko Haram was “intentionally directing attacks against the civilian population or against individual civilians pursuant to article 8(2)(e)(i); intentionally directing attacks against buildings dedicated to education and to places of worship and similar institutions pursuant to article 8(2)(e)(iv); pillaging a town or place pursuant to article 8(2)(e)(v); rape, sexual slavery and sexual violence pursuant to article 8(2)(e)(vi).”
The criminal court added since 2017, the Nigerian authorities appear to have “taken concrete steps toward fulfilling their primary responsibility to investigate and prosecute ICC crimes.”
“While there seems to be a tangible prospect of further proceedings against members of Boko Haram, including high-level commanders, at this stage the same cannot be said of the NSF, in particular since the Nigerian authorities tend to deny any allegation against the latter.”
The ICC prosecutor added that “While acknowledging the cooperation of the Nigerian authorities in the course of the preliminary examination, the Office will require, for the purpose of expediting its complementary assessment, further information, and evidence demonstrating that relevant national proceedings are being or intended to be conducted without delay.”
Bottom Line: Nothing new here. An article published on Reuters earlier this year pointed to the same allegation against the military forces stationed in the Northeast. The ICC report feeds into a verifiable trend of abuse and crimes perpetuated by the military against citizens. And if those trends continue in this case, no action will be taken by the federal government.