An updated report by IHRC into the massacre of over 1000 civilians by Nigerian armed forces in the city of Zaria in 2015 is being sent to the International Criminal Court.
The report follows what appears to be another year of inaction on the part of the ICC following the submission of a detailed report into the massacre in 2016 which requested that the international tribunal open an investigation into the horrific events of December 2015.
So far the ICC has done little except to ask Nigeria for a response to the allegations raised in the report which form part of a preliminary investigation launched by the Court. Nigeria needs to satisfy the court that it is properly investigating and prosecuting those responsible for the massacre failing which the ICC will then intervene and see if they can prosecute.
However, with little visible progress being made on this front IHRC has been forced on more than one occasion to ask the ICC to expedite its investigation, especially in view of the fact that delays give an opportunity for the Nigerian government to destroy or tamper with evidence and witnesses.
The updated report stresses the need for the ICC to make meaningful progress this year. Failure to do so will only embolden the Nigerian government to take more steps to cover up its culpability in the 2015 massacre and continue its persecution of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria.
The report also contains an update on the deteriorating health of the leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, Sheikh Ibrahim el-Zakzaky and his wife Zeenah, who remain in custody despite a federal court order demanding their release.
Sheikh Ibrahim el-Zakzaky lost sight in one eye and the use of one arm after being shot during the December 2015 massacre by the Nigerian military of over 1000 followers of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria. The bullets in his body have led to him having dangerous levels of cadmium and lead toxicity in his blood. He has also suffered minor strokes while in detention.
Zeenah al-Zakzaky is also seriously ill with high blood pressure and can barely walk because of a bullet trapped near her spine.
The updated report recommends that the ICC takes measures to ensure that all evidence of crimes and human rights violations is preserved (there is credible evidence that the Nigerian authorities are seeking to destroy this evidence).
It also recommends the institution of safeguards to protect witnesses who may testify against the army or the Nigerian government in any legal process, as well create and implement mechanisms for exhumations, autopsies and investigations into those killed in December 2015.
IHRC is also sending the report, along with the medical reports, to the United Nations asking the international body to intervene and secure the Zakzakys’ release
The updated report to the ICC is available to read here.
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