The Concerned Nigerians Group has dragged the immediate past Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, to the International Criminal Court (ICC) over human rights violations and crimes against humanity by the Army during his tenure.
The group in a letter on Thursday by its Convener, Deji Adeyanju, asked the ICC to investigate, arrest and prosecute Buratai to serve as a deterrent to others who have made it a point of duty to indiscriminately abuse citizens’ human rights in the country.
The letter addressed to Fatou Bensouda, the court’s Chief Prosecutor read, “We write to call on the International Criminal Court and all lovers of democracy and human rights in the world to immediately investigate, arrest and prosecute Lieutenant General Buratai (Rtd) who was just relieved of his duty as Chief of Army Staff for crimes against humanity and the Nigerian people.
“It will be recalled that sometimes in 2015, Lieutenant General Buratai (Rtd) ordered members of the Nigerian army to kill over 300 defenceless Nigerian Shiite Muslims on the unjustifiable grounds that they ‘touched a general’s chest’. That event has been appropriately tagged the Zaira massacre and it has further worsened the insecurity situation in Nigeria. Shortly thereafter, Lieutenant Buratai (Rtd) ordered the Nigerian soldiers to kill hundreds of Nigerian citizens of South-Eastern extraction, in the guise of searching for members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
“It is particularly noteworthy to mention that as at the time Lieutenant General Buratai (Rtd) ordered the massacre of IPOB members, the group had not been proscribed by the Nigeria Government. Additionally, we have been able to gather from different independent sources that Lieutenant General Buratai (Rtd) personally ordered the killing of the innocent protesters at Lekki toll gate, Lagos, on October 20, 2020.
“It is on the basis of the foregoing, among other human rights abuses, that we call on the International Criminal Court and friends of Nigeria to urgently investigate, arrest and prosecute Lieutenant General Buratai (Rtd), to serve as a deterrent to members of the Nigerian Armed Forces and their civilian collaborators who have made it a point of duty to indiscriminately abuse citizens’ human rights.”
Recall the Army under Buratai was severally accused of various forms of human rights violations by Nigerians and international actors such as Amnesty International.
In 2015, over 600 Shia sect members in different locations controlled by their leader Sheikh Ibrahim El- ZakyZaky in Zaria, Kaduna State were allegedly killed by soldiers.
The Army claimed its confrontation with the Shiites who had placed a makeshift roadblock near a mosque resulted from an assassination attempt on Buratai, whose convoy was passing by.
Amnesty International had also accused soldiers of raping female internally displaced persons (IDPs) in exchange for food and killing hundreds in detention.
An unconfirmed number of peaceful #ENDSARS protesters were also killed by soldiers at the Lekki Toll Gate on the 20th of October 2020.