The Nigerian army carried out massive attacks over the course of the 12th and 13th December 2015 which targeted the Islamic Movement of Nigeria in Zaria.
The operation resulted in the deaths of at least 1000 unarmed civilians, mostly IMN members, killed by gunshots attributed to soldiers. Hundreds more were injured. There were reports that the military blocked access to medical care for the injured and shot at and killed wounded persons. Witnesses and victims reported signs of widespread force and cruelty with allegations of looting, arson, mutilation, mass graves, torture, rape and other inhumane acts levelled at the Nigerian army.
The supporting materials and eyewitness accounts further indicate that such massive acts of violence were carried out in the context of a widespread and systematic attack against the Nigerian civilian population. The violence unleashed on members of the IMN has a history and it is a history of premeditation. There is also sufficient evidence to suggest an official plan by Nigerian government officials to cover up these crimes and indeed perpetuate the same.
IHRC is of the view that there are reasonable grounds to believe these crimes fall within the jurisdiction of the court in accordance with the Rome Statute. The crimes of the Nigerian army meet all the relevant criteria to warrant further investigation by the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.
In view if the above, IHRC calls on the Prosecutor to open a preliminary investigation proprio motu on the incidents reported.
This IHRC communication aims to provide a solid understanding of the events and crimes committed by the Nigerian Army, and it is based on eyewitness accounts and other supporting materials. The second part focuses on the legal parameters against which crimes against humanity are assessed, in respect of articles 7, 12, 13, 15, 17, 53 of the Rome Statute.