President Muhammadu Buhari, Nasir El-Rufai (the Kaduna State governor), Tukur Buratai (the chief of army staff) and many others have been charged to the International Criminal Court (ICC) by a UK-based Muslim advocacy group known as The Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC).

The IHRC is allegedly calling on the ICC to probe the massacre on members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (who are also mostly Shi’ite Muslims), which occurred between the 12th and 14th of December, 2015. In a report by the IHRC, the organisation noted that the attacks of the Nigerian army on the Shi’ites (led by Ibrahim El-Zakzaky) in Zaria, Kaduna State, could qualify as crime against humanity.

President Buhari’s charges that were highlighted in the report is what was presumed as the indifferent stance by the Federal Government which was further portrayed by its unwillingness to investigating the killings. “At the present time, the available information shows some inadequacies or reluctance on the part of the Nigerian authorities to generally address the violence that occurred on 12-13 December 2015,” the report stated.

On El-Rufai’s part, he was accused of being partial in his investigation by allegedly destroying property which belongs to the Shi’ites group just a couple of days after the incident. The army, led by Tukur Buratai, was accused of illegitimate violence and a high degree of brutality, mutilation, excavation of mass graves without permission and other extrajudicial crimes.

What if they are found guilty?

Between the 12th and 14th of December, 2015, nearly 1,000 civilians lost their lives during the clash between the Nigerian Army and the Shi’ite group and this massacre has evoked reactions from other countries around the world (such as Iran and India). It may not look good for all the parties listed by the ISHR considering the shoddiness with which such a grievous incident was handled.

Zakzaky, who was reportedly shot four times, was also initially denied treatment. Even after he was flown out of the country for treatment, several human rights organisations alleged that the government only had him treated out of compulsion and not sympathy. This is aside from the government’s inaction towards conducting a thorough investigation into the unfortunate incident that occurred last year. All of these could constitute to crimes against humanity which may attract an indictment by the ICC.

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