The attention of the Nigerian Army has been drawn to a front page news story of Daily Independent newspaper of today, Tuesday 11th December 2018, with the headline “NIGERIAN ARMY IS GUILTY OF WAR CRIMES -ICC”, written by one Austin Oboh. According to the paper, “The International Criminal Court (ICC) has ruled that Nigerian army is guilty of war crimes against humanity.” This is not true. The Nigerian Army has not been accused of any wrong doing let alone being arraigned before any court. It is therefore wrong and sheer mischief for any person, group or newspaper to allege that the Nigerian Army has been found guilty of war crimes.
For the avoidance of doubt, yesterday, Monday 10th December 2018, the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) of the International Criminal Court (ICC) presented the 2018 Report of her activities. Nowhere in the 78 page report titled “Report of Preliminary Examination Activities 2018” dated 5th December 2018, did she state that the Nigerian Army is guilty of any crime let alone war crimes as the newspaper alleged. Although it is true that the OTP is currently investigating allegations of human rights violations made against the Nigerian Army, that investigation is still at its preliminary stages and does not translate to standing trial, let alone being found guilty.
The Nigerian Army is aware that the office of the OTP has requested for additional information from the Federal Ministry of Justice to enable it determine appropriate steps on how to proceed with the matter. It therefore follows logically that a matter that has not been fully investigated cannot be subject of a final pronouncement by the ICC.
Please note that the Nigerian Army has been consistent in cooperating with the Federal Ministry of Justice, National Human Rights Commission and the several human rights investigative bodies established by the Presidency to review its human rights footprints specifically in the areas of operations including but not limited to the North East Zone.
Yesterday, Monday 10th December 2018 in commemoration of the International Human Rights Day, the Chief of Army Staff issued a statement affirming the commitment of the Nigerian Army to the promotion and protection of Human Rights. In which he said that “the Nigerian Army firmly believes that the promotion and protection of human rights are an essential component of our military operations. We firmly embrace the idea and the message behind the International Human Rights Day and we are committed to doing our part to spread awareness and support for human rights every day”.
We are dismayed by the recklessness of the said newspaper in publishing such a sensationally false story and giving it undue prominence. A simple research on the website of the International Criminal Court would have provided clarity on the issue. We urge journalists and editors to consider the national security implications of this type of publications. Our nation’s security should not be jeopardised by the desire to sell publications or cause mischief. It is our hope that the Daily Independent newspaper will properly inform itself on the inaccuracy of its story by setting the records straight and apologise to the Nigerian Army.
You are please requested to disseminate this information to the public through your medium.
Thank you for your kind cooperation.
SANI KUKASHEKA USMAN
Director Army Public Relations