On 29 January 2016, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB)—a movement dedicated to the self-determination of the former Republic of Biafra in South-Eastern Nigeria—will file a complaint to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague against various senior officials of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, including President Muhammadu Buhari. The complaint will be filed by Professor Göran Sluiter of Prakken d’Oliveira Human Rights Lawyers, a law firm based in Amsterdam.
The complaint, which is based on publicly available information as well as the statements of many unnamed Nigerian victims, is currently in the process of being finalized. To date, there is clear and consistent evidence that crimes against humanity within the jurisdiction of the ICC—in particular: murder, unlawful imprisonment, torture, enforced disappearance, other inhumane acts, and persecution—have been committed in the context of politically- and ethnically-motivated state violence against, primarily, IPOB members and the Igbo people of South-Eastern Nigeria.
In the context of this widespread and systematic attack against the civilian population of South-Eastern Nigeria, the Federal Government has specifically targeted—among many others—Nnamdi Kanu, IPOB’s leader and the director of Radio Biafra. Kanu has been physically detained against his will, on politically-motivated terrorism charges, by the Nigerian State Security Service since approximately 17 October 2015 in an undisclosed location, presumably somewhere Nigeria’s capital Abuja. Despite unconditional bail orders from at least two competent Nigerian courts, Kanu continues to be held in violation of Nigerian and international law. Kanu’s family, supporters, and Nigerian legal team have all expressed serious concern regarding the conditions of his detention. President Buhari, for his part, has publicly endorsed—and presumably ordered—the prolonged unlawful imprisonment, suggesting that the situation is far too politically sensitive to be entrusted to the court system.
Kanu and the many other victims of the Federal Government’s anti-Igbo campaign have been specifically targeted for their actual or perceived support of Biafran self-determination. The right to publicly advocate and support political positions that may be disagreeable to the government of the day is protected by both Nigerian and international law.
Accordingly, the ICC will soon be called upon to address the injustices currently unfolding in South-Eastern Nigeria.