Dutch lawyers have filed a complaint against Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari at the Hague for committing crimes against humanity over the treatment of pro-Biafra agitators in the country.
Goran Sluiter, a lawyer at Dutch human rights legal firm Prakken d’Oliveira, filed the complaint with the International Criminal Court in The Hague on Friday, saying there has been “an intensification of violence and crimes committed against Biafrans since Mr Buhari became the Nigerian president.”
There have been numerous reports of pro-Biafran protesters being killed in clashes with Nigerian security forces during demonstrations. More than 20 protesters and two police officers have been killed since October 2015, AP reported, with about 200 people detained across the country. Inspector General Solomon Arase, Nigeria’s chief of police, warned protesters in December to stop their activities or face “the full weight of the law.”
“Nigeria is already a long time on the agenda of the [ICC] prosecutor and Nigerian courts are not dealing at all with these crimes. The time really has come for the ICC to act,” says Sluiter.
The complaint was filed on behalf of 17 unnamed victims and alleges to set out evidence of crimes against humanity—including torture and murder—committed by Nigerian security forces against pro-Biafran protesters.
The ICC was not immediately available to confirm that the complaint had been filed. Once a complaint is filed at the ICC, the prosecutor can decide to open an investigation if there is a reasonable basis for believing that crimes against humanity have been committed. Nigeria is a signatory to the Rome Statute, upon which the ICC’s jurisdiction in based.