Nigeria: Ignore ICC’s Probe, Buratai Tells Soldiers

The Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant-General Tukur Buratai, yesterday described the probe initiated against the Nigerian security forces by the International Criminal Court (ICC) as “distractions,” urging the troops fighting Boko Haram insurgents to ignore such probe.

Buratai said such probe was meant to demoralise gallant troops, adding that it would have negative consequences on their morale and affect the interest of other Nigerians in military service. According to him, it is a severe setback to “all our internal security operations in the country.”

It would be recalled that the prosecutor of the ICC, Fatou Bensouda, had said the court found a reasonable basis to investigate members of the security forces for crimes against humanity, which they allegedly committed in the course of prosecuting the counter-insurgency war in the North-East.

According to Bensouda in a release made available on Friday, the ICC is probing the Nigerian military for conscripting children below the age of 15 and “using them to participate actively in hostilities and other inhumane acts.”

The prosecutor alleged that just like the Boko Haram insurgents, members of the Nigerian military were committing war crimes like murder, rape, torture and cruel treatment.

But reacting via a statement signed by Brigadier-General Sagir Musa, the acting director, Army Public Relations, Buratai did not deny the allegations levelled against the military, neither did he confirm the accusations by the ICC prosecutor.

“There is no doubt that such statement and instigation can distract the troops with its demoralising effects,” the army chief stated.

Buratai insisted that the Nigerian troops had not deviated from protecting citizens’ rights, adding that they had continued to follow their rules of engagement while carrying out operations in the North-East or other parts of the country.

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