Civil rights advocacy group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, (HURIWA), on Monday, described as an abuse of court process, a recent petition by the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) known as Shiites asking the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate and prosecute a former Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai; and Kaduna State Governor, Nasir el-Rufai, for alleged genocide against the Shi’ites Muslim sect in the state in 2015.
HURIWA, in a statement read at a media briefing by its National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko said a judicial panel of inquiry had seven years ago indicted those responsible for the alleged genocide and the names of Buratai and El-Rufai weren’t amongst those indicted. The duo were not indicted at all, HURIWA reaffirmed.
The group further revealed that the commission indicted some soldiers and the IMN leader, Sheikh Ibraheem El-Zakzaky for the December 12-14, 2015 clash between the officers of the Nigerian Army and Shiites.
HURIWA, therefore, said dragging the names of the Kaduna governor Nasir El-Rufai and Lt. Gen Tukur Yusuf Buratai is shadow chasing and a waste of precious time if the ICC is being asked to reopen a matter that a domestic judicial process was activated and a determination reached and if dissatisfied, the group can file a suit within the Nigerian jurisdiction and as it is, they have multiple cases on this sad incident.
“Without sounding immodest or trying to demean or dishonour the memory of the citizens who were unfortunately killed by gunfire, we feel it is just a dramatic show of ignorance to drag these two persons particularly as it is clear that local judicial processes had taken place and a determination one way or the other reached on that incident that led to avoidable fatalities. But the truth is that ICC’s jurisdiction can only be invoked if Nigeria at any level had failed to activate judicial inquisition on that unfortunate incident. Even the National Human Rights Commission did not indict the former Army chief after it carried out extensive investigation.”
A 13-member panel headed by Justice Mohammed Garba Lawal, in its reported submitted recently to Governor Nasir el-Rufai which was made public seven years ago , said El-Zakzaky and his members should be held responsible for the bloody clash with the Nigerian Army last December, which led to the deaths of 349 people, including one soldier.
The report also accused the Nigerian Army of “disproportionate use of force contrary to its rules of engagement”, declaring that soldiers and officers of the Nigerian Army who were involved in the killing of 348 members of the Shiite sect should be prosecuted.
The clash was a clear assassination attempt on Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, according to Army spokesperson, Colonel Abubakar Usman Kukasheka, who was with the Army Chief during the incident.
HURIWA’s Onwubiko said, “El-Zakzaky and his members have for seven years staged demonstrations in protest of what has been concluded by the judicial commission. HURIWA doesn’t have issues with public peaceful protests since protest is one essential ingredient that nurtures constitutional democracy. So those who feel aggrieved can ventilate their angst lawfully. But we think making any demands of accountability should be focused on the individuals so indicted. But Buratai and El-Rufai were not indicted according to public records available for all to apprehend.”
“The Islamic Movement of Nigeria it would be recalled recently petitioned the ICC but their petition is of no moment since a judicial commission had already determined the matter and indicted those responsible. The judicial investigative commission did not in anyway indict General Buratai and Kaduna governor. A resort to ICC after a domestic judicial body has handled the matter is an abuse of court process and the petition would be dismissed. It is also double jeopardy to subject people to multiple judicial inquisition over the same matter.
“Both the Kaduna state governor and Buratai were not found culpable of the killings and indeed the commission had already identified the persons responsible and recommended action to remedy the damage. So, the petition of IMN to ICC is of no effect.”
April 17, 2023
Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko
National Coordinator – HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA.