The attention of International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law is drawn to the recent public statement issued by the national leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) calling for, among others, an international inquiry to unravel the sponsors of Boko Haram terror insurgents. In the statement published in the media including the News Express online newspaper of today, 14th of July 2014, the APC “called for an international inquiry into the activities of the terror group Boko Haram in order to unravel its modus operandi and sponsors as well as any individual or group that may have links with the insurgents, with a view to ending, once and for all, the debate over who is behind the insurgency and also to facilitate efforts to tackle it decisively”.
The Party requested for the mandatory inclusion into such international body of inquiry of the representatives of the Nigerian military and other security agencies, especially the police and the Departments of State Security, Governments of the States worst-hit by the Boko Haram insurgency, including Adamawa, Borno, Yobe, Kano, Bauchi and Jigawa, the Federal Capital Territory, the Christian Association of Nigeria, the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, Civil Society Organisations, the Nigeria Labour Congress, the Trade Union Congress, National Human Rights Commission, the Nigerian Bar Association, major political parties including the PDP and the APC and any other relevant individuals or groups.
The Party further said “let the international inquiry we are seeking be launched urgently and let the findings be published for all Nigerians to see. Anyone opposed to this call for an international inquiry will have a lot of explanations to make to Nigerians as well as to the international community. Enough is enough. The daily killing, maiming and abduction of innocent Nigerians, as a clueless Federal Government looks on, must end. The pervasive insecurity that has crippled Nigeria since this insurgency started must be halted. Those behind it must be unraveled and prosecuted. Let the inquiry begin!”
It is recalled that the leadership of International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law has been at the forefront of local and international campaigns for international criminal and humanitarian inquiries over the raging butcheries by Islamic Boko Haram and Fulani terror sects in Nigeria. Our campaigns culminated into a four-part letter to President Goodluck Jonathan dated 29th and 31st May as well as 6th and 7th June 2014. In few days time our campaigns will take another dimension. It is further recalled that recently before the hallowed British Parliament, a prominent member of the Parliament, Mr. Andrew Rosindell questioned the UK Foreign Secretary, Mr. William Hague, on the country’s engagement with Nigeria’s leading opposition party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), over the Boko Haram menace.
The Cable News online broke the news on its site on Saturday, July 12, 2014. The Online news further reports: “This came after a debate in the Parliament in which Labour MP Sandra Osborne sought to examine allegations of links between APC and the insurgents. The increasing questioning of the UK government by MPs on the issue may force an enquiry into the allegations. However, APC spokesman, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, told TheCable on Friday that he was not aware of any meeting between the leadership of APC and Hague. Rosindell, a conservative who represents Romford and is a member of the influential foreign affairs committee, sent in his written questions ─ called “notices” ─ on Tuesday, July 8”.
“Mr. John Hague is mandated to formally respond to Rosindell’s questions in the coming weeks on behalf of the British Government. The questions, listed under “notices for written answer”, were published on the website of the UK Parliament. Rosindell’s queries relating to Boko Haram, as listed, are: 1. To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, if he will commission an inquiry into the international support network for Boko Haram in Nigeria and Cameroon; and if he will make a statement (Notice no. 204402). 2. To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what discussions (a) he and (b) other Ministers in his Department have had with leading members of the Nigerian opposition party, the All Progressive Congress; and if he will make a statement (204401)”.
Others are: 3. “To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what assessment he has made of the rise in Islamic terrorism in Nigeria (204387). 4. To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what support his Department plans to offer to Nigeria in tackling the threat of Boko Haram (204388). 5. To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what assessment he has made of links between Boko Haram and other Islamic extremist groups in Africa (204389). 6. To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, if he will discuss with his counterpart in Cameroon the need for constructive dialogue between that country and Nigeria in tackling Boko Haram; and if he will make a statement(204390)”.
We wish to commend the duo of Honorable MPs, Mr. Andrew Rosindell and Sandra Osborne for their courage and forthrightness over the issue under reference. They are true friends of ordinary Nigerians. Raising such concerns internationally gladdens our heart. Also, the APC’s call for an international inquiry to unravel the sponsors of Boko Haram terror sect; though grossly belated, is commendable. But the mode of the international inquiry being suggested by the federal opposition party is totally rejected and condemned. Calling for an international inquiry body that involves every Tom, Dick and Harry including those at the center of accusation, is a tainted and ill-conceived call. It is not only designed to fail, but also to exonerate those under local and international suspicions. What the APC would have called for is independent international criminal and humanitarian inquiry bodies such as ICC and UN criminal justice and humanitarian bodies of inquiry.
To truly unravel the sponsors of Boko Haram terror group, its modus operandi and killings, “a body comprising everybody” including those under heavy international suspicion, is not needed. The international mechanisms and safeguards needed in this respect are not lacking. In other words, there are sufficient international independent criminal and humanitarian bodies, mechanisms and safeguards to handle the subject under reference. For instance, under parties to the crime/elements of crimes, which have universal application, “sponsors of Boko Haram terror insurgency” can validly be unearthed and brought to international criminal justice. Under intra/inter service agencies’ corporation and networking of local and international policing bodies, the modus operandi of the Boko Haram terror sect can be demystified.
Under the UN and ICC criminal inquiries, who and who has been killed or maimed and who and who carried out the killings can be ascertained and perpetrators punished. The duo, joined by the UN Human Rights Commission also has the responsibility to establish the commission of other heinous crimes such as torture, rape, ethno-religious cleansing, war crimes and genocide. The UN humanitarian bodies like UNHCHR, WHO, UNICEF and UNDP can investigate the issues of refugees and internally displaced persons as well as health and shelter conditions of war or insurgency victims and areas. These are exactly what a genuine call for international inquiry into Boko Haram menace ought to be, not the other way round.
Emeka Umeagbalasi, Board Chairman