On behalf of HEDA Resource Centre, I wish to acknowledge the receipt of your letter dated 30th January, 2015, with reference number OTP-CR-287/14, addressed to our organization to intimate us on progress by your office on our petition, inviting the Courts intervention in the mindless killings perpetuated by the Boko Haram insurgents and the alleged complicity of some government officials.
We also, by this letter, welcome your promised expeditious action on this matter. Your proposed analysis of the situation and other conditions required to be satisfied, as stipulated in Article 53 of the Rome Statute establishing the Court, is a decision we so much appreciate. We are confident it is capable of exposing far more atrocities inflicted on hapless Nigerians, by a ruling class elected and appointed to protect them, than we were able to provide.
We have received with enthusiasm, the cheering news of your office’s intention to monitor the process leading to forthcoming February general elections in Nigeria. At the level of HEDA Resource Centre and our sister organizations, we wish to pledge our support, collaboration and possible assistance in ensuring sponsors and promoters of violence before, during and after the elections are not only identified but brought to justice. Past experience have shown the government and by extension the ruling class as unwilling and incapable of bringing an end to politically induced violence or at the least, bring perpetrators of violence to book. The April 16, 2011 Presidential election was greeted with an orgy of violence that too the world by surprise. It led to the death of over 800 persons in northern Nigeria. The victims were killed in three days of rioting in 12 northern states of Nigeria. In response to the mass killings, Nigerian Government on May 11, 2011 appointed a 22-member panel to investigate the causes and extent of the violence.
In its report, submitted to the President on October 10, 2011, the panel indicted the government of contributing to the violence by failing to implement reports of past commissions and panels on ethno-religious and political crises which has contributed to the 2011 post-election violence and, urged the government to implement the reports. More than three years without implementation, even after a white paper was issued on the report, it is obvious the report has gone the way of those before it. The government has not only failed to implement recommendations of the Panel, the identified perpetrators of the violence are still freely working streets and, possibly emboldened by government’s inaction to unleash a higher degree of violence, if not favoured by outcomes of the 2015 election.
Madam Prosecutor, to avoid a repeat of the Kenyan experience, where evidence to prosecute alleged sponsors of post election violence could not be sufficiently mobilized, your office is hereby implored to broaden your monitoring engagement to cover pre-election utterances, actions, inactions and postulations from January 2014. Political gladiators have set the template for developments leading to the heated electoral process. Several politicians, public office holders and their supporters have embarked on hate campaigns, open threat of violence and even act tantamount to genocide.
In furtherance of your resolve to ensure prosecution of promoters and sponsors of crimes within the ICC power, “Any person who incites or engages in acts of violence including by ordering, requesting, encouraging or contributing in any other manner to the commission of crimes within ICC’s jurisdiction is liable to prosecution either by Nigerian Courts or by ICC. No one should doubt my resolve, whenever necessary, to prosecute individuals responsible for the commission of ICC crimes,” we which to put on record some election connected developments, akin to preparation for crimes against humanity:
1. In November 2014, Mr. Asari Dokubo, a supporter of the President and current Presidential Candidate of the ruling Party, was alleged to threatened a genocidal action against the Yoruba race, if his candidate and fellow Ijaw man, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, should lose the Presidential election of February 14, 2015. In another interview, the same Asari openly threatened to wet the street of Nigeria with blood if his kinsman is not voted into office in February, 2015. In his words, ‘There would be blood in the streets if Mr. Jonathan is not reelected president in the 2015 election’. These statements and several others have continued without any action by the government.
2. Less than 2 weeks ago, specifically on January 23, 2015, theNiger-Delta militants met in Bayelsa State, President Jonathan’s State of origin. Also in attendance were the Special Adviser to the President on Niger Delta Affairs, Kingsley Kuku and Bayelsa state Governor, Seriake Dickson and his deputy among others. One of the reported resolution at that meeting was to unleash violence on the country when their candidate and kinsman lose the election. No rebuttal till date from participants at the meeting or any interrogation by the state authorities.
3. The Katsina State Governor, Ibrahim Shema, was in November 2014 caught on tape, prodding his supporters to kill the opposition. It was a documented open invitation to violence. This statement was decried by the European Union, the American embassy and British High Commission in Nigeria.
4. A new sponsored clamor for postponement of election by people close to the government. Several unconvincing and unsubstantiated excuses were advanced. Despite the electoral body’s assurance of preparedness and capability. Civil Society Community and well meaning Nigerians have expressed support for the electoral body’s insistence on election as scheduled. A new twist might be introduced to the unpopular postponement move with an endorsement by a Council of State meeting slated for Thursday 5th of February, 2015. Any attempt by the council of State to support this controversial call is not but precipice to violence and political instability.
Though, presidential candidates and their political parties signed a peace accord on January 14, 2015, supervised by former United Nations Secretary General, Dr. Kofi Anan, major gladiators in the elections are consistent in promoting hate campaigns, character assassination, religious and ethnic incitement and, failed to caution their supporters. Local and international observers have suggested the February elections are likely to be marred by violence.
As admitted in your letter, “Experience has shown that electoral competition, when gone astray, can give rise to violence and in the worst case scenarios, even trigger the commission of mass crimes that ‘shock the conscience of humanity.’” We implore your Office to give maximum attention to the process and decisions leading to the February 14 and 28 elections in Nigeria.