AFTER the International Criminal Court, ICC announced an investigation into possible war crimes committed in Nigeria, Allamin Foundation for Peace Development, AFPD, a civil rights group has lauded the move and called on the ICC to ramp its efforts to ensure justice prevails especially for victims of enforced disappearances by security forces.
Hajia Hamsatu Alamin, founder of the Maiduguri-based group disclosed this to The ICIR on Friday, saying the call for speedy justice dates back to the early days of insurgency in the North East where security forces would make arrests and the suspects would disappear without a trace.
“Between 2012 to 2015, in the early days of insurgency before the declaration of State of emergency in the name of counter-terrorism, whenever there is an attack the Nigerian military would conduct house to house operations to arrest of young people who till date have not been heard from.
“While several of these young people who were arrested have no records with the military or the security forces to know their whereabouts others were shot and killed openly without accountability or a transparent process to determine if they were actually Boko Haram members or not,” she said.
The ICC is set to review the conflict in the Northeast and the operation of the Nigerian security forces and Boko Haram including its various splinter groups since 2010.
The insurgency has claimed the lives of thousands of Nigerians and left many more displaced.
Alamin who also doubles as the leader of a coalition of women in Bornu State whose family members “disappeared” after being arrested by members of the Nigerian security forces described the ICC intervention as a breath of fresh air.
“Many times when investigations were carried out on activities of the military in the North East. It has always revealed that the security forces in a bid to fish out terrorists have intentionally directed attacks against the civilian population who are not involved in hostilities.
“And findings of such investigations are usually swept under the carpet or it is denied by the military but with the involvement of the ICC we are excited that an independent body is looking at these crimes and we hope for speedy execution of justice,” she said.
Efforts to curb terrorism led to the formation of the Civilian Joint Task Force, CJTF, a network of vigilantes supported by the military.
Human Rights Watch, a New York-based human right organisation in a report says conscription of minors combatants or spies in hostilities is prevalent with Boko Haram and its splinter groups and the CJTF is not exempted.
However, Alamin told The ICIR that she has no substantive evidence on the conscription of minors in conflicts by either the military or the terrorist groups as her organisation amplifies the voices of women whose family members were forcefully disappeared in the conflict.
“I cannot comment on that because I don’t have evidence to show but if it is about the atrocities committed by both the Nigerian security forces and Boko Haram against civilians then I can talk about it because the evidence abounds,” she said.
Amos Abba is a journalist with the International Center for Investigative Reporting, ICIR, who believes that courageous investigative reporting is the key to social justice and accountability in the society.