By Abdulwahab Abdulah
A civil society group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, has asked the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon to â€œfacilitate the establishment of a United Nations and African Union led International Commission of Inquiry on the human rights situation in Jos, with the mandate to investigate possible crimes against humanity being committed against innocent Nigerians, mostly children and women, some of them pregnant.â€
The request was contained in a petition sent to the UN Chief in New York.
In the petition signed by SERAP executive director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, the organisation said, â€œNigeria is an important member of the UN; and a state party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, and deposited its instrument of ratification on 27 September 2001.â€
According to the organization, â€œ Fulani herdsmen and men reportedly in the uniforms of the Military Task Force stole into a Jos village in the wee hours of the day to kill innocent women and children. One of them was a pregnant woman with a baby strapped to her back. All the three were killed. The womanâ€™s belly was ripped open and the foetus, the third victim, removed.â€
The organization also argued that: â€œGiven the events of the past weeks and years where innocent women and children have been murdered and where the government has shown that it is unwilling or unable to address the situation and bring suspected perpetrators to justice, it is now time for the international community to establish a commission of inquiry into the numerous targeted and systematic human rights violations that continue to be committed in Jos with absolute impunity.â€
It stated further â€œAs an independent mechanism, the commission would help to establish the root causes of the problem and the legal groundwork for bringing to justice those responsible for crimes against humanity and other serious abuses under international law in Jos,â€ the organization added.
The organisation also stated that, â€œEstablishing a commission of inquiry is absolutely necessary to provide justice for the countless victims of serious violations and abuses in Jos, and would certainly help towards deterring these grave breaches of international human rights law in the future. It is the culture of impunity for international crimes committed in Jos that is fueling further killings, and undermining the rule of law and endangering the fragile democratic dispensation in the country. Justice and accountability are at the foundation of the United Nations system, rooted in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which calls for an international order in which the rights and freedoms set out in the declaration can be fully realized. Failing to act on accountability in Jos will embolden the perpetrators of international crimes and will continue to deny the victims justice.
â€œThe attack on Byei village is coming 10 days after suspected armed Fulani herdsmen attacked four villages in Jos South and Barkin Ladi local council areas in which many people, mostly women and children, were killed. Three males, six females and four children were physically counted among the slain people. Majority of the victims bore machete wounds while only one victimâ€™s stomach was pierced by a bullet.
After the bullet, the attackers still went ahead to slice his head. These unlawful killings are not isolated: they followed allegations of the unlawful killing of at least 326 people and perpetration of other crimes under international law during the violence early this year in Jos, Plateau State of Nigeria. There were reports that the military and police used excessive force against both Christians and Muslims in responding to the violence.â€ It added.