FG to ex-NSA: You can’t stop your trial
Some soldiers tried for mutiny, cowardly behaviour and sundry offences before the courts-martial instituted by the Nigerian Army have petitioned the International Criminal Court (ICC) over the arms procurement scandal. No fewer than 3,000 soldiers were dismissed by the courts-martial while 70 others were sentenced to death.
With the revelations from the probe of the procurement of arms for the military, the soldiers, in a petition dated January 19 and addressed to the Prosecutor of the ICC, Mrs. Fatou Bensouda, called for the investigation and prosecution of former National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Dambo Dasuki (rtd) and erstwhile Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo- Iweala, for crime against humanity.
The soldiers said Okonjo- Iweala failed to prevent the looting of arms fund as Minister of Finance.
Also, the soldiers, in the petition by their lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), stated that some former and serving military offices as well as public officials and private persons who engaged in the criminal diversion of $8 billion earmarked for the procurement of equipment for the armed forces to fight insurgency in the North-East should be made to face justice. Falana said that the only “offence” proved against his clients in the military courts was that they had the temerity to demand for weapons to fight the well-equipped troops of the Boko Haram sect.
He, however, asked the ICC Prosecutor to commence an investigation into the allegations of the criminal diversion of the security fund of $2.1 billion and N643 billion by suspected perpetrators, with a view to determining whether these amount to crimes against humanity within the court’s jurisdiction. Falana also asked the ICC to bring to justice those suspected to bear full responsibility for deliberate underfunding of the armed forces through widespread and systematic corruption in Nigeria.
In addition, he urged the Nigerian government to fulfill its obligations under the Rome Statute to cooperate with the ICC,including complying with requests to arrest and surrender suspected perpetrators of the criminal diversion of security fund, testimony and provide other support to the ICC.
“Although the government of President Muhammadu Buhari has, so far, shown some political will to fight corruption and recover stolen assets, we believe that an international investigation by the ICC from the perspective of crimes against humanity would complement the anti-corruption initiatives by the current government and contribute to ending a culture of impunity of perpetrators. “We submit that substantial grounds exist to warrant the intervention of the Prosecutor in this case.
Under Article 30(2) (b) of the Rome Statute, a person has intent “in relation to a consequence (where) that person means to cause that consequence or is aware that it will occur in the ordinary course of events. “We, therefore, submit that this is sufficient to hold Col. Dasuki and others that have been indicted in the arms theft scandal responsible for crimes against humanity perpetrated against Nigerians.
The failure of a former Finance Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, to prevent widespread and systematic corruption, including the re-looting of the Abacha loot, amounts to complicity under the Rome Statute and, therefore, fits the legal requirements of a crime against humanity,” Falana told the ICC. The petition reads in part: “On account of the deliberate refusal of the former military authorities to equip and motivate the members of the armed forces involved in combat operations, the insurgents have killed about 25,000 soldiers and civilians, including children and displaced over 2 million people.
Having compromised the security of the people of Nigeria by collaborating with the terrorists, the former military authorities deliberately encouraged the brutal killing of innocent people, including ill-equipped officers and soldiers. “During a visit to Borno State in 2014, former President Goodluck Jonathan revealed to some selected leaders of the community that it was when Alhaji Modu Ali Sheriff caused the extra judicial killing of the leader of the Boko Haram sect, Mohammed Yusuf, that the group declared war on the Nigerian people.
Even though President Jonathan knew that Sheriff was a major sponsor of the terrorist group, government did not charge him to court under the Terrorism Act applicable in Nigeria. “In order to divert the attention of the Nigerian people and the international community from the aforementioned crimes against humanity, scores of soldiers were put on trial before courts-martial for demanding equipment to fight the well-armed members of the Boko Haram sect.
The military courts convicted the soldiers and sentenced them to various terms of imprisonment, while 70 were sentenced to death. Over 3,000 others were dismissed from the Nigerian Army in similar circumstances.
“Having investigated and confirmed that the said soldiers were sacrificed to cover up the criminal negligence of the former military authorities, the current Army leadership has ordered the recall and reinstatement of the 3,000 dismissed soldiers and commuted the death sentence of 66 out of the 70 convicts on death row to 10 years’ imprisonment.
“The inquiry conducted by the presidential panel on arms procurement has established that the bulk of the sum of $2.1 billion and N643 billion ($4 billion) earmarked for the purchase of military hardware to fight terrorism was criminally diverted by the former government through the office of the National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd). It has also been confirmed that the said Col. Dasuki colluded with some serving and retired military officers and civilians to divert the sum of $2 billion and N29 billion set aside for the procurement of fighter jets and other equipment for the Nigeria Air Force.
“As if that was not enough, the sum of $322 million and £5.5 million from the Abacha loot, which was illegally transferred to Col. Dasuki by a former Finance Minister, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, for prosecuting the war on terror, has also been criminally diverted. Part of the stolen fund was used to fund the campaign for the re-election of President Goodluck Jonathan in the 2015 general elections…
“It is submitted that the former public officials, serving and military officers, as well as civilian collaborators who engaged in the criminal diversion of the security fund, are liable to bear full responsibility for the death of about 25,000 people killed by the Boko Haram sect and the over 2 million people displaced by the terrorist organisation.”