Some international civil society organizations have cautioned the International Criminal Court’s Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensou, over misguided utterances against the Nigerian military and sister agencies.
The International Human Rights Protection Forum, IHRPF, gave this warning in a letter to the Office of the Chief Prosecutor on Tuesday.
In the letter signed by its Director of Communication, Zakari Yinusa, the IHRPF said the ICC pre-convicted the military, adding that it was faulty and not in tandem with any known criminal court.
The group also expressed frustration over reports that the ICC has been compromised by Amnesty International who it claims is “pumping millions of dollars into the Chief Prosecutor’s office to ensure that the military is demoralized to the extent of losing focus on the final defeat of Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorist groups.”
The CSO, though, assured that the Armed Force under the current dispensation over the years adhered strictly to the extant laws, rules of engagement, and international best practices.
“As far as we are concerned, the position you have taken is a subtle way of casting aspersions on the military while at the same time strengthening the terrorists and their sympathizers to keep unleashing mayhem on innocent citizens,” the letter stated in part.
The group, however, advised the ICC Chief Prosecutor to retrace her steps and stop being used against Nigeria.
It added that “we shall prevail on the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mallam Abubakar Malami (SAN) through civil actions to cease further cooperation with the International Criminal Court in terms of exchange of classified national security information or legal documents.
“Our investigations also reveal that Nigerian Armed Forces under the current dispensation in carrying out counter-terrorism operations within the North East and other parts of the country have over the years ensured that their troops do everything possible to adhere strictly to the extant laws, rules of engagement and international best practices. On no account shall we allow the ICC to dampen the morale of military troops who have been fighting tirelessly to keep Nigeria and her people safe. As far as we are concerned, the position you have taken is a subtle way of casting aspersions on the military while at the same time strengthening the terrorists and their sympathizers to keep unleashing mayhem on innocent citizens. This we condemn in its entirety and call on other sister organizations to join in the struggle to save Nigeria from another foreign oppression.
“Until you retrace your steps from being used against Nigeria, we shall prevail on the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mallam Abubakar Malami SAN through civil actions to cease further cooperation with the International Criminal Court in terms of exchange of classified national security information or legal documents. We will equally prevail on the Federal Republic of Nigeria to opt-out of being a signatory to the Rome Statute and adopt a new policy of protecting her military personnel, officials, and nationals from your illegitimate use of the powers inherent in the ICC. After all, the core issues of when Nigeria can lawfully resort to armed force, how that force may be applied, and whether particular actions constitute serious international offenses of war crimes, crimes against humanity, or genocide are duly covered by local laws.
“On the whole, we urge you to always maintain neutrality in handling affairs of State parties. The need for the ICC to remain accountable to the United Nations Security Council in line with Chapter 5, Article 24 (1) of the UN Charter for purposes of maintaining international peace and security cannot be overemphasized. Massive atrocities have been committed by terrorists in Nigeria under your nose, yet you kept mute, only to regain your voice where the military is mentioned. It is, therefore, our prayer that you take urgent steps to correct the erroneous impression which your publication has made concerning the hitherto highly esteemed reputation of the ICC. The best thing we envisage from your office in the coming days is to prove to the world that ICC is indeed not being subjected to undue pressure from Western Nations hiding under the cover of Amnesty International to bankroll the hatchet job of throwing Nigeria into complete anarchy through the promotion of terrorist activities.”
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