United Nations – The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Monday reported that there was reason to believe that crimes against humanity have been committed in Nigeria by the militant group known as Boko Haram.

A report issued by the office of ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, identified the crimes committed the group as murder and persecution.

It found that the group had, since July 2009, “launched a widespread and systematic attacks that have  resulted in the killing of more than 1,200 Christians and Muslims civilians in different locations throughout Nigeria. ’’

“The scale and intensity of the attacks have increased over time,”  the report which is based on preliminary information through December 2012 added.

The Office stated that it was now assessing whether the national authorities are conducting genuine proceedings in relation “to those who appear to bear the greatest responsibility for such crimes, and the gravity of such crimes.”

The report also added that the Prosecutor was still assessing three other phases of the situation in Nigeria, and that

once completed, she would decide if these situations meets the legal criteria established by the Rome Statute.

The UN Correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the “Rome Statute’’ is the Court’s founding treaty to warrant an investigation by the ICC.

During the time frame of the report, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) repeatedly warned Boko Haram against attacks on civilians.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency in May to fight Boko Haram.

Related anti-insurgent operations and general insecurity have uprooted thousands of people in north-eastern Nigeria, with more than 6,000 of them fleeing to neighbouring Niger for safety, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) had reported in June.

Located in The Hague, in the Netherlands, the ICC is an independent, permanent court that tries persons accused of the most serious crimes of international concern namely genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes if national authorities with jurisdiction are unwilling or unable to do so genuinely. (NAN)


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