A Nigerian based pro-democracy, human rights and justice sector group, Global Integrity Crusade Network (GICN), has condemned in strongest possible terms the attempt by the International Criminal Court (ICC) to blackmail the Nigerian Armed Forces and other security forces presently fighting the war against terrorism in some parts of Northern Nigeria. While speaking to newsmen in Abuja today, the Compliance Officer of the group, Barrister Peter Alake noted with bitterness that ICC under the leadership of Madame Fatou Bensouda as Chief Prosecutor is beginning to lose focus from being the international court of last resort for the common man that it used to be.
According to Alake, the planned move to investigate Nigerian security forces for so called “crimes against humanity” and war crimes is a shot in the dark, caricature and headless task which will yield no useful results. It rather exposed the ICC as giving tacit cover to Boko Haram terrorists so they can continually perpetrate their dastardly acts against innocent citizens. He added that Amnesty International, a crisis merchant with headquarters in London, United Kingdom over the years hoodwinked ICC into believing that the Nigerian Army being at the forefront of the counter-insurgency war violated rules of engagement in Northern Nigeria by abusing the rights of unarmed civilians.
In his words; “We at GICN are not unaware of the antics of Amnesty International which is being used by their paymasters in the Middle East to destroy Nigeria. They practically resorted to the continuous writing of damaging reports and petitions against the Nigerian Army years ago. On several occasions, Amnesty International accused our security agencies before the ICC of using brutal force and human rights violations while turning a blind eye to the nefarious activities of Boko Haram terrorists which have led to the death of more than 20,000 Nigerians since the year 2012”.
The group wondered why the Chief Prosecutor of ICC will choose to direct her powers towards distracting the military, and by extension, President Muhammadu Buhari led Federal Government of Nigeria from sustaining the gains so far recorded in restoring peace and security to Northern Nigeria. Obviously, Boko Haram terrorists are known for using the unconventional strategy of launching attacks on soft targets. This makes it extremely difficult to identify and isolate its members; hence attempts to repel them had often cost security agencies the lives of many personnel. We are therefore worried that the International Criminal Court is insisting that terrorists should be treated with kid’s glove and probably served tea at the theatre of war, even as they unleash mayhem on military officers.
Alake stated further; “As far as we are concerned, the hasty stance taken by Madame Fatou Bensouda as Chief Prosecutor of ICC to open investigation against the military points to pre-conviction. It has not been shown to our satisfaction that Nigerian Courts are unable to handle any human rights litigation that may have emanated from military-civilian relationship. What the Chief Prosecutor of ICC has done by her lopsided report gives us reason to suspect that she is part of the grand conspiracy to subtly expand neo-colonialist tendencies in Nigeria purely for selfish gains. The bitter truth is that ICC has found the African Continent a fertile ground for its sort of imperialist campaign. If we may ask; for how long will ICC continue to bully Nigeria with reports and threats of prosecution as though we are not a sovereign nation? To what extent has the self-serving ICC frowned at terrorist groups such as Boko Haram, Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) and Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN)”?
“Let it be known that the attempt by enemies of Nigeria using ICC to destabilize our democracy through promotion of insecurity and reckless killings in various parts of the country will never work. We shall vehemently resist any attempt at dampening the morale of our military forces and strengthening the terrorists. As a group made up of patriotic citizens, GICN has resolved to do everything possible to defend democracy in Nigeria not minding the cost. We submit that Fatou Bensouda, the ICC Chief Prosecutor, erred in her Annual Report on Preliminary Examination Activities (2018) wherein she posited that there is a reasonable basis to believe that Nigerian Security Forces committed crimes punishable under various Sections of the Rome Statute 2002. Judges of the International Criminal Court who have the final voting power must not grant approval for further harassment of our dear country”.
On the whole, we encourage the ever gallant Chief of Army Staff and leader of the counter insurgency war in Nigeria, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai to remain focused on the task at his hand. The soldiers who laid down their own lives that we may sleep with our two eyes closed are highly appreciated. We want them to be assured that our prayers are with them, especially at this crucial period when they are working round the clock to rescue Nigerian students abducted from the all-boys Government Science School in Kankara District, Katsina State on Friday, December 11, 2020.
Gunmen Kill Five Police Officers, Two Civilians In Rivers
Gunmen have killed at least five policemen and two civilians in Rivers State.
The attack which occurred on Friday night was launched at a police station in Rumuji community, Emohua LGA, and a police checkpoint, known as C4i at the entrance of Emohua from Port Harcourt.
Emohua is a Local Government Area along the East-West road, connecting Rivers and Bayelsa state.
During the attack security vehicles were also burnt.
In another attack, a police station in Elimgbu in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area was attacked and three police officers were said to be beheaded.
One of the officers who was beheaded had his head taken away by the gunmen.
Although the Police are yet to confirm the attacks, a youth leader in the Local Government Area, residents of the communities confirmed the incidents to Channels Television.
This attack comes less than one month after gunmen killed three customs officers, five soldiers, and some police officers at different security formations in Ikwerre and Abua/Odual Local Government Areas.
The attacks in April prompted Governor Nyesom wike to impose a nighttime curfew at various entry and exit points of Rivers State between 8 pm and 6 am, and restriction of movement within the state from 10 pm to 6 am.
We Didn’t Bathe for 56 Days in Kidnappers’ Den –Freed Afaka Students
It was jubilation galore as 27 kidnapped students of the Federal College of Forestry Mechanisation, Kaduna were reunited with their families after 56 days in captivity.
Tears of joy flowed freely from both parents and their children. At about 3pm, the entire premises of the college, located along the Kaduna International Airport, opposite the Nigerian Defence Academy, erupted in jubilation as the students were being escorted by heavily-armed policemen in company with the state Commissioner for Internal Security and Home Affairs, Samuel Aruwan, and the state Commissioner of Police, Umar Muri.
Narrating their ordeal in the kidnappers’ den, one of the freed students, Zakariya Magaji, described the kidnappers’ den as hell, saying he would never wish the experience for his enemies.
“The bandits need prayers. All that we have to do is to pray for them for God to touch their hearts. As for me, I have forgiven them for whatever we went through in their hands. The experience was hell.”
A female student, Sarah Sunday, said she and her colleagues were subjected to all sorts of dehumanising conditions, including not being allowed to take a bath while in the bandits’ den.
Sunday said, “A lot of things happened while we were there. We were subjected to hunger. We were subjected to trekking and all sorts of dehumanising experiences. We were insulted but thankfully, they did not molest or kill any of us. They only beat us on the first day when they did a video of us.”
Asked if they were fed at all, Sunday said, “The boys used to go and fetch water for us to cook. We cooked tuwo with miyan kuka, and tuwo with dry okra. We only cooked rice once, and we cooked spaghetti once too.”
When asked whether the abductors used to leave them to go out for other operations, Sarah said, “Yes, they used to go out, but they always left some of their armed members to stay with us.
“Even our male colleagues who used to go and fetch water were always escorted to the stream by gang members bearing AK-47 rifles.
“Our living condition in the jungle was very bad. We never had a bath. We were exposed to the rain. Athough there was a hut that we always ran to hide whenever it was raining, still there was no escaping the rain because the hut was poorly built. But we have forgiven our kidnappers. And we pray that God will give them the chance to change for the better.”
‘Bandits said our abduction was to get govt’s attention
Also speaking, a freed student, Pamela Ibrahim, said the bandits said their grouse was with the government and vowed to unleash hell on Kaduna State.
Ibrahim said, “Before they released us, the kidnappers told us that they didn’t have anything against us (students). They said they kidnapped us because they needed the government to settle things with them and that they also wanted to be educated like other Nigerians. They need work and houses too.
“They said if the government doesn’t settle with them, they would continue to make sure that Kaduna State is unsafe. They said they meant it. Some of them are Nigerians, others are foreigners. They spoke mainly Fulani (language) and Hausa.
“There was an old man among them who prevented others from harassing us and anytime he was not around, we were beaten and insulted.”
In a jubilant mood, one of the parents, Ibrahim Hassan, said he was glad that his daughter was freed few days to her elder sister’s wedding.
Hassan said, “I was confused; my life was miserable throughout the time my daughter was with the kidnappers. I only depended on God.
“When I heard that some of the students of Greenfield University were killed, I became sad thinking that I would never see my daughter again but when I learnt they had been released, my joy knew no bounds, especially as her elder sister’s wedding comes up in Zaria tomorrow (Saturday). It is double joy for me.”
Another parent, Mr Friday Sanni, said before he could allow his two daughters – Victory and Rejoice – to return to the college, he must be assured of adequate security in the school.
Sanni said, “The truth remains that if my children must come back here, I must be sure that there is a serious security structure on the ground, that this kind of incident will not happen again.
“If in few months’ time nothing serious is on the ground, I will move my children out, because they are too dear to me.
“The first one will be 20 years old by September while the second one will be 18 by November. They are too dear to me to lose and I will not want this kind of experience again. I have never experienced this kind of situation before in my life.”
Speaking, the state Commissioner of Police, Umar Muri, said the freed students had undergone medical tests and were fit to be reunited with their parents.
“As we speak, the victims are all clinically stable,” he said.
He urged the students not to allow their ordeal to discourage them from pursuing their education.
Speaking on the process leading to their release, Muri said, “The federal and the state governments as well as the acting Inspector-General of Police, the state police command, the military and other sister security agencies adopted the best modus operandi at our disposal and 10 of the students were first released on April 5 and 8 in two batches.
“With this sustained effort, the remaining 27 kidnapped students were subsequently released to the command on May 5, at about 4.10pm without any casualty.”
The police commissioner said concerted efforts were being made to also secure the release of the abducted students of Greenfield University, who had been in captivity since April 20.
The Provost of the college, Dr Muhammad Bello, who received the students, appreciated all those involved in the process to get the students released.
“You should not be discouraged from pursuing your dreams,” Bello told the students.
Food Security: AFAN Set to Commence Court Action Against Agric Minister
The All Farmers Association of Nigeria (AFAN) has initiated legal proceedings against the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Alhaji Sabo Nanono over his stance to destabilise the body’s internal democracy structure and impede farmers efforts at working harmoniously with the federal government in attaining food security.
In a release signed by the Assistant Publicity Secretary of the umbrella body of farmers in the country, Salisu Mukhtar, the body noted that the undue interference of the minister, rooted in vendetta by insistently recognising an illegal faction, was at cross-purposes with its constitution and counter-intuitive to the rule of law.
“Upon the appointment of Alhaji Mohammed Sabo Nanono as HMA, who was once removed as acting Chairman of AFAN Kano State chapter in 2007 for misappropriating fertilizer, the undue interference in AFAN activities began.”
According to the body, AFAN being an NGO is not a department in FMARD and cannot be controlled or destroyed by any individual no matter how highly placed.
“Actions of the HMA which have become a mockery of the law include recognising an unconstitutional and illegitimate leadership faction of the association by playing host to them in his office on several occasions and accepting invitations by them in the full glare of the public, in spite of knowledge of the pending court case.
“This polarising act by a minister representing a constitutionally recognised administration of President Buhari, is undoubtedly antithetical to the rule of law and democratic norms, which are the bedrock of the administration he is serving under,” Murktar said.
The association is asking that the matter which is in Court 9 of the Federal High Court (FHC) before Justice Taiwo Taiwo should be allowed to be resolved, especially by the Plaintiffs who filed the suit in the first place.
“The minister’s actions are directly inimical to the economic progress of the sector which is also hinged on the leadership stability of the private sector stakeholders which AFAN represents.
“Farmers as an extension of the national polity, who participated in and voted overwhelmingly for this administration, are irked by the actions of the minister, which is inadvertently truncating the association’s efforts at enjoying internal democracy nationwide.
“To act in any way by the minister, the Plaintiffs’ lawyer or the Plaintiffs themselves, before the determination of the suit is lawless and adjudged a contempt of court.
“Justice must be allowed to take its course if AFAN is to continue to exist as the apex body of all farmer-associations by whatever name called in Nigeria,” Murktar said.
The body stated that AFAN was registered in 2005 by the CAC with reg: 18160 and three registered Trustees namely Murtala Nyako, Dr Shettima Mustafa and Chief Femi Coker as the apex body of all farmer-associations by whatever name called in Nigeria.
Murktar explained that: “President Olusegun Obasanjo advised then that Murtala Nyako should head the management of AFAN as National President and the duo of Chief Femi Coker and Shettima Mustafa to be deputies 1 and 2 respectively pending general election.
“All other officers were appointed as interim management members in the same manner.
“AFAN elections did not hold until after Abdullahi Adamu former governor of Nasarawa State became the President.
“The elections from the Wards of 774 LGAs to the 36 states plus FCT took nearly two years to be concluded.
“The National Election was conducted in 2014 and the elected Executives duly inaugurated.
“From this point on AFAN began to be recognized as the umbrella of all farmer-associations in Nigeria guided by its constitution as an NGO.”
AFAN on the 6th of May, 2021, served the minister a pre-action notice through their attorney A.O Okeya and Associates for legal actions against his person, for unduly interfering and recognising the Mr Faruk Rabiu faction in the capacity of leaders of the association.
The pre-action notice accused Rabiu’s faction of circulating letters to AFAN state chairmen across the 36 states of the country including the Federal Capital Territory, under the directive of the minister asking them to purchase inputs supplied by the ministry through them at exorbitant prices.
According to the association’s attorney: “We were informed that on the 26th of April, 2021, the said Faruk Mudi through his Counsel M.M Bakari Esq, wrote a letter to your office intimating you about an election conducted by them, which you directed the Permanent Secretary of your ministry to advise all agencies to recognise this illegal faction, knowing fully well that there is a pending matter at the Federal High Court 9 Abuja.”
“From the above, we demand that you desist from dealing, transacting, aiding and encouraging Faruk Mudi & Co to stop using your office to perpetrate injustice, as the leadership tussle is before a court of competent jurisdiction.
“Take notice therefore that this is a pre-action notice, as we shall seek redress in the law court and demand for damages against your person for aiding Faruk Mudi & Co to defraud AFAN members. You are warned.”
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