Crimes against humanity: British lawmakers seek UN Security Council Resolution against Nigeria

Posted by News Express | 9 January 2021 | 4,230 times

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Two ranking members of the House of Lords, the upper house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, want a UN Security Council Resolution against Nigeria for alleged “mounting crimes against humanity”. In a letter dated 21 December 2020 and addressed to British Foreign Secretary, Rt Hon Dominic Raab MP, Lord Alton of Liverpool (David Patrick Paul Alton) and Baroness Cox (Caroline Annex Cox) expressed surprise that Her Majesty’s Government (HMG) has yet to show serious interest in the widely reported persecution of Christians in Nigeria and the seeming indifference of the incumbent administration of President Muhammadu Buhari in tackling the problem.

The letter, a copy of which was sighted by News Express, cited several credible reports on the issue, among them “the publication of a new report by Nigerian human rights group Intersociety (14 December), which raises serious concerns about the scale of human rights abuses in Nigeria and the need for an urgent response.”

“Attacks led by Islamist militia continue in northern states and the Middle Belt, with almost-daily  reports  of  killings,  mayhem,  rape  and  sexual  abuse,  abductions  and enslavement, mass forced displacement and land-grabs. According to Intersociety, an estimated 34,400 Christians have been killed in Nigeria since 2009 – including 17,000 by Boko Haram (and its splinter groups) and 15,500 by Fulani militia,” the letter said. It went on to highlight the following: 

Targeted attacks against Christians 

In  July  2018,  the  Nigerian  House  of  Representatives  declared  killings  in predominantly-Christian villages in Plateau State to be a ‘genocide’ and called on the Government of Nigeria to establish  orphanages in areas affected by violence. Nigeria’s Minister of  Information and  Culture, Alhaji  Lai Mohammed,  has since acknowledged that Boko Haram and the Islamic State in West Africa “have started targeting Christians and Christian villages for a specific reason, which is to trigger a religious war and throw the nation into chaos… they seem to now have a deliberate policy of attacking Christians.” 

According  to  the  Bishop of  Truro’s review,  whose recommendations  HMG  have agreed to implement in full: “Some of the most egregious persecution of Christians has  taken  place  in  Sub-Saharan  Africa…  the  most  widespread  and violent  threat came  from  societal  groups,  including  many  with  a  militant  Islamist  agenda… Reports  consistently  showed  that  in Nigeria,  month  after  month,  on  average hundreds of Christians were being killed for reasons connected with their faith… Those worst affected included Christian women and girls abducted, and forced to convert, enter forced marriages, sexual abuse and torture.” 

The same concerns were raised in  two  other  recent  reports:  ‘Nigeria:  Unfolding Genocide?’  by  the  APPG  for  International  Freedom  of  Religion  or  Belief;  and ‘Nigeria’s  Silent  Slaughter:  Genocide  in  Nigeria  and  the  Implications  for  the International  Community’,  by  the  International  Committee  on  Nigeria  and  the International Organisation on Peace-building & Social Justice.  

Nigerian Government response  

There are now widespread concerns that some attacks take place with a degree of official complicity and that the Nigerian Government only occasionally investigate or prosecute those responsible for such crimes.  

The ICC’s decade-long preliminary investigation (which concluded on 11 December 2020) found that Nigerian security forces have committed crimes against humanity and  war  crimes,  including:  murder,  rape,  torture,  and  cruel  treatment;  enforced disappearance;  forcible  transfer  of  population;  outrages  upon  personal  dignity; intentionally  directing  attacks  against  the  civilian  population  as  such  and  against individual  civilians  not  taking  direct  part  in  hostilities;  unlawful  imprisonment; conscripting and enlisting children under the age of fifteen years into armed forces and  using  them  to  participate  actively  in  hostilities;  persecution  on  gender  and political grounds; and other inhumane acts.  The ICC confirmed that domestic courts have not responded to atrocities adequately or at all and that the Nigerian Government has failed in its obligations to hold those responsible to account. However, the Office of the Prosecutor faces serious resource constraints to investigating and prosecuting new situations and cases. We therefore urge HMG, as a State Party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, to ensure any investigation is adequately resourced. 

Intersociety  reports  that  1,400  Christians  have  been  killed  by  the  Nigerian  army, police and air force. The Nigerian army’s former Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Theophilus Danjuma, says the armed forces are “not neutral; they collude” in the “ethnic cleansing in...  riverine states”  by  Fulani  herders. He insists that villagers must defend themselves because “depending on the armed forces” will result in them dying “one by one. The ethnic cleansing must stop”.  

US Government response  

We commend the decision by the US State Department to designate Nigeria as a Country of Particular Concern because of FoRB violations and its recognition of escalating “religious-tinged violence”.  

During a special briefing on 8 December, US Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious  Freedom  Sam  Brownback  said:  “The  world  has  great  concern  about

what’s  taking  place  in  Nigeria  at  this  time,  and  a  number  of  terrorist  groups  are organizing  and  pushing  into  the  country. We’re  seeing  a  lot  of  religious-tinged violence  taking  place  in  that  country  and  indeed  in  West  Africa.   It’s  an  area  of growing  concern  about  what’s  happening,  in  particular  the  tension  that’s  taking place there between religious groups.  And it’s often the religious affiliation is used to try to recruit and inspire violent acts.” 

The lack of comparable response by the UK is both stark and alarming. If HMG continue to ignore or downplay the strong religious factor fuelling the conflict, as identified  by  the  US  State  Department,  resources  will  be  wasted  on  the  implementation of solutions based on a premise that has little-to-no impact on the violence. 

UK Government response 

Over £2 billion of UK bilateral aid was given to Nigeria between 2011 and 2018, an equivalent of £800,000 every day. However, we share growing concerns over how the funds are spent; and how it could be better spent – especially in relation to the protection of those most at risk of attack and the need to bring perpetrators to justice. The UK is also one of the largest donors to the World Food Programme’s emergency operation  in  north-east  Nigeria,  but  it  does  not  currently  provide  humanitarian assistance  in  the  middle  belt  states,  despite  this  being  one  of  the  worst-affected regions.  For  the  UK  merely  to  “emphasise  the  importance  of  mediation  and  inter-faith dialogue” trivialises the scale of persecution of Christians. It is too simplistic for the UK  Government  to  label  atrocities  committed  by  Fulani  militia  as  driven  by desertification, climate change or competition for resources. Protracted attempts to address these (albeit important) longer-term factors will not stop the current rate of killings.  

Tabling their demand, Lord Alton of Liverpool and Baroness Cox wrote toward the end of the letter: “We  therefore  urge  you  to  consider  urgently  how  you  can  shine  a  light  on  these mounting crimes against humanity, undoubtedly predicated by a hatred of people who refuse to renounce their religious beliefs. We would also ask you to use your seat at  the  UN  Security  Council  to prioritise  these  concerns,  to  seek  a  resolution which significantly enhances the security given to communities at risk of attack, and for signatories of the 1948 Genocide Convention – including the UK – to fulfil their obligations to prevent and protect. We would be happy to provide draft wording for such a resolution as we have been looking into the different options available.”  


Source: News Express

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