A civil society organization, Concerned Nigerians, has petitioned the International Criminal Court (ICC) over human rights violations by Tukur Buratai when he held sway at the military.
Mr Buratai alongside three other security chiefs were on Tuesday fired by President Muhammadu Buhari who immediately replaced them over worsening insecurity.
In a letter addressed to Fatou Bensouda, the Chief Prosecutor of the ICC, Concerned Nigerians demanded the probe, arrest, prosecution of Buratai to serve as deterrent to others.
“We write to call on the International Criminal Court and all lovers of democracy and human rights in the world to immediately investigate, arrest and prosecute Lieutenant General Buratai (Rtd) who was just relieved of his duty as Chief of Army Staff for crimes against humanity and the Nigerian people,” the group said in the Thursday epistle by its convener, Deji Adeyanju.
“It will be recalled that sometimes in 2015, Lieutenant General Buratai (Rtd) ordered members of the Nigerian army to kill over 300 defenseless Nigerian Shiite Muslims on the unjustifiable grounds that they ‘touched a general’s chest’. That event has been appropriately tagged the Zaira massacre and it has further worsened the insecurity situation in Nigeria. Shortly thereafter, Lieutenant Buratai (Rtd) ordered the Nigerian soldiers to kill hundreds of Nigerian citizens of South Eastern extraction, in the guise of searching for members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
“It is particularly noteworthy to mention that as at the time Lieutenant General Buratai (Rtd) ordered the massacre of IPOB members, the group had not been proscribed by the Nigeria Government. Additionally, we have been able to gather from different independent sources that Lieutenant General Buratai (Rtd) personally ordered the killing of the innocent protesters at Lekki toll gate, Lagos, on October 20, 2020.
“It is on the basis of the foregoing, among other human rights abuses, that we call on the International Criminal Court and friends of Nigeria to urgently investigate, arrest and prosecute Lieutenant General Buratai (Rtd), to serve as a deterrent to members of the Nigerian Armed Forces and their civilian collaborators who have made it a point of duty to indiscriminately abuse citizens’ human rights,” the letter read.
Mr Buratai had last year counseled troops not to let threat of prosecution by the Hague-based court deter them from discharging their constitutional duties.
“Any act of arson or attempt to kill or maim any military or security personnel and other law-abiding civilians must be responded to quickly and decisively,” Buratai said shortly after meeting with top-ranking army commanders in the nations’ capital Abuja on October 26.