NIGERIA: Northern Group Drags Buhari to ICC over Election Violence

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A non-governmental group, the Northern Coalition for Democracy and Justice (NCDJ) on Thursday said it had commenced moves to file a case against presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), General Muhammadu Buhari over the  2011 post election violence.

The coalition, in a statement jointly signed by its Secretary General, Umar Farouk, Publicity Secretary, Yunanan Shibkau, Organising Secretary, Baba Nagari , Secretary Research and Documentation, Dr. Ibrahim Baba and Secretary International Affairs, Abdulazeez Suleiman, said they had ample evidence to support the call for prosecution of Buhari at the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Buhari had been accused by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) of making inciting comments that might have fuelled the post-election violence  that occurred in 2011.

According to the group, the complaint is a follow-up to an earlier one submitted by NCDJ to the ICC in May 2011.

“There are ample video, audio and documented evidence to support a prosecution against Buhar who incidentally is going into the presidential race once again with an attendant mounting apprehension particularly recent statement credited to him and some of his allies.

“The growing incidence of ethnocentrism, intolerance, intimidation, religions, regional communal and political violence are largely caused by intense competition over wealth and power by elites desperately craving to triumph above and over their political rivals by all means.

When asked to explain the reason and timing of their move, one of the leaders of the group,  Ibrahim Baba, said the move to prosecute the former Head of State for the 2011 post election violence has become necessary to serve as caution not only to Buhari who is in the race again for presidency but others so that everyone will stare clear of inciting rethorics during campaigns.

“Let us reiterate that our interest in this matter is purely to safeguard our democracy so that elected representatives can only emerge through due process. This is the only way the governed would benefit from the dividends of democracy in our country.

Also explaining the reason for by-passing the country’s system to drag Buhari before the ICC, Yunanan Shibkau said “due to state of Nigeria’s sick legal system and the Orwellian conduct of some of the men in the temple of justice necessitated our resolve to facilitate prosecution processes at the jurisdiction of ICC prosecutors”.

While throwing more light on the ICC case, the counsel of the group, Prof. Groan Shuitter, said “based on the available evidence, there are compelling reasons to believe that crimes against humanity including murder, torture, rape, forcible population transfer, persecution and other inhumane acts were committed in the context of politically-motivated Sectarian violence that immediately followed the Nigerian presidential elections of April 2011.”

He said due to the seriousness of the crimes and lack of an adequate response by the Nigerian authorities, the prosecutor of the ICC would be asked to conduct investigations into the alleged acts and their perpetrators, in particular Buhari.
Shuitter said he was in the country to formally consult with NCDJ and to sensitise members of the public on the matter.

The counsel said the evidence so far  collected suggests that the highly inflammatory public comments made by Buhari prior to, during and immediately following the elections, led directly to the deaths of over 800 people and the displacement of more than 65,000individual in April 2011.

Shuitter, a partner at the Amsterdam law firm of Prakken d’Oliveirs Human Rights Lawyer and lawyer practicing at the ICC  said he will in a very short notice file a complaint to the office of the prosecutor of the ICC in the Hague.

He said the complaint will  be filed on behalf of the Northern Coalition for Democracy and Justice (NCDJ), a consortium of seventeen non-governmental organisation operating primarily in the northern states of Nigeria.

However, a group under the aegis of Nigerian Youths Coalition (NYC) has condemned all manner of politically motivated attacks by politicians and the supporters.

It expressed the support to the recently signed accord in Abuja by all the political parties expressing  their commitment to non-violence elections next month.

Speaking to journalists on Thursday in Abuja, the leader of  the body, Chief Ezekiel A Kuje, condemned in strong terms  the reported cases of political violence the country, including the recent report of the stonning of President Goodluck Jonathan’s convoy in Katsina.

The coalition include: Arewa Youths Consultative Forum, Northern Minority Youth for Positive Transformation, Abuja Original Inhabitant Youths Empowerment Organisation, Southern Kaduna Progressive Movement, Northern Youth Democratic Union, Gbagyi Reforms Youth Empowerment, Abuja, Swing Nationalities of Nigeria and Fulani Youth Organisation.

Kuje, who spoke on behalf of the various groups urged all youths across the country irrespective of their political parties or religion to show commitments to the non-violence pact.

He explained that the  purpose of the briefing was to show their commitments toward the coming elections which they said they were passionate about.

“We vehemently and unapologetically condemn the recent acts of political campaign offices, the burning of campaign vehicles and most recently, the attack on the President’s convoy on his recent visit to Kastina state. We the coalition of youths of the North strongly disassociate ourselves from such misguided elements.

“No one is above the law. Anyone found wanting of instigating violence, before, during or after the elections must be decisively dealt with by the constituted authority.” They said.

Another speaker, Alhaji Yarima Shetima, told the journalists that they were not sponsored by any political party, saying they are fea is about Nigeria, “If there is no Nigeria I wonder where some of ua we go to.”

The group also called on other Nigerian youths to stand with them for peace, saying by doing that, “We can build a nation where peace and justice shall reign, “ he said.

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