The International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague has confirmed that it is considering petition submitted to it by human rights lawyer Femi Falana, SAN over alleged crimes against humanity committed in the context of the arms procurement scandal otherwise known as Dasuki Gate.
The ICC made this known in a letter dated February 1, 2016 with reference: OTP-CR-32/16 and signed by Mark P. Dillon, Head of Information and Evidence Unit of the ICC.
The letter reads in part: “The Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court acknowledges receipt of your documents/letter. This communication has been duly entered in the Communications Register of the Office. We will give consideration to this communication, as appropriate, in accordance with the provisions of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.”
It would be recalled that Falana had in a petition dated January 19, 2016 requested the ICC to “investigate allegations of crimes against humanity committed against the Nigerian people by some former and serving military as well public officials and private persons who engaged in the criminal diversion of $8 billion earmarked to procure equipment for the armed forces to fight insurgency”
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 2,000,000 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.”
It continued, “During a visit to Borno state in 2014, former President 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 Alhaji Sheriff was a major sponsor of the terrorist group the 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 afore mentioned crimes against humanity, scores of soldiers were put on trial before courts-martial for demanding for 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.”
Falana stated that , “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 70 convicts on death row to 10 years’ imprisonment.”
He added that, “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.”
He stated that 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, adding that part t of the stolen fund was used to fund the campaign for the re-election of President Goodluck Jonathan in the 2015 general elections.
Falana said that apart from diverting the fund for acquiring military equipment some corrupt public officers also stole money set aside for acquiring the necessary gadgets and equipment for securing the Nigerian people.
For instance, he cited the $470 million contract awarded in 2009 for the installation of CCTV cameras in Abuja, the seat of the federal government, which according to him was poorly executed due to corrupt practices, adding that the identification of terrorists who launched bomb attacks in public places in Abuja has been frustrated by the government officials who stole the contract sum.
“Notwithstanding the deliberate refusal of the military authorities to purchase arms and armament due to the criminal diversion of the security fund, Col. Dasuki gave a lecture at Chartam House in London on February 8, 2015 where he claimed that Nigeria had acquired adequate equipment to prosecute the war on terror. At the time he was addressing his London audience Col Dasuki was well aware that the fund for procurement of weapons had been stolen by himself and his cohorts.”
Falana is asking the ICC Prosecutor to among other things:
1.Urgently commence an investigation proprio motu on the allegations of the criminal diversion of the security fund of $2.1 billion and N643 billion earmarked by suspected perpetrators, with a view to determining whether these amount to crimes against humanity within the Court’s jurisdiction. In this respect, I also urge you to invite representatives of the Nigerian government to provide written or oral testimony at the seat of the Court, so that the Prosecutor is able to conclude on the basis of available information whether there is a reasonable basis for an investigation, and to submit a request to the Pre-Trial Chamber for authorization of an investigation.
2. Bring to justice those suspected to bear full responsibility for deliberate under funding of the armed forces through widespread and systematic corruption in Nigeria; and
3. Urge the Nigerian government to fulfill its obligations under the Rome Statute to cooperate with the ICC; including complying with your requests to arrest and surrender suspected perpetrators of the criminal diversion of security fund, testimony, and provide other support to the ICC.