The International Criminal Court (ICC) has announced that it is investigating Nigeria for war-crime related matters. This news is no doubt, coming to many in Nigeria as a welcome development.
Areas of concern covered in the investigation, as announced in the 2019 Annual Report of the Court are related to the conduct of the Nigeria Army in the Boko Haram crisis, the incidents of attacks on Shi’ites and the attacks on members of the Independent People of Biafra (IPOB).
A critical look at this development will reveal that the increasing art of suppressing opposition and silencing opposition and dissenting voices will be put to a drastic stop, for fear of more cases not being taken into cognizance in the ongoing ICC investigation process.
This is indeed good for democracy. For a Government that came on board via the vehicle of free speech and a right to freedom of assembly, it should not now borrow upon itself the controversial burden of curtailing free speech and checkmating Nigerians even down to their choices of association and/or assembly.
In fact, the Government has no moral right to turn itself to the definer and interpreter of the Constitution. The courts are there. The Government can charge to court, rather than lock up Nigerians as it wills.
Nigerians should be allowed to gather and make proclamations without fear of intimidation, fear of being locked up or held incommunicado till further notice. As well, the excesses of Government and its agencies must be in check at all times. Overzealousness of Government agencies and Government representatives, such that undermine human rights must end now.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) must as a matter of urgency increase its possible scope and coverage of investigations with regards to human rights abuse and certain extreme acts of Nigerian Government that can pass for war crimes under international lens.
Human right is a right and not a privilege. The Government cannot under any guise deprive Nigerians of their human rights and other rights protected by the Nigeria Constitution 1999 (as amended).
Human rights did not die completely during the draconian military era, it is not under a democracy they will now die, ICC must ensure it stops at nothing to prosecute Government officials it finds guilty of war crimes at the conclusion of its ongoing investigations on Nigeria.