By Alfred Babalola
Those searching for the freest people on earth, should come to Nigeria. In this most populous black nation, even prominent citizens refuse regulation by any standard of morality and laws.
And examples of such abnormalities would full a basket and overflow, like the blessings of Jehovah God! Nigeria is democratically governed now. But it is only in Nigeria, the few wealthy and disgruntled citizens covertly seek a violent and bloody means to dethrone an elected government implanted by majority of the populace. No one cares about the violence, mass deaths and destructions such actions would cause.
But once the intentions of opposition element are not met, its easy to see more devious plots mounted against the incumbent leader, by these stealthy forces. It begins with organized arrangements to thwart the ballot, which is the only weapon of democratic change to clandestinely sponsoring the mass restiveness, upheavals and anarchy to cause destabilization.
Never mind that the enemies of a state or any nation are usually very few. But in this part of the world and Africa to be specific, there is always a maddening rush for the satanic illumination, rather than truth. Therefore, the secret sponsors of violence and bloodbath against compatriots under a particular Government mistakenly believe, the ICC at the Hague would always side them when the chips are down against all odds. That’s misplaced judgement.
So, characteristically, the opposing elements of state pose and pretend fighting a populist cause to extents of violence and bloodbath. They bargain through the sponsorship of a complete breakdown of public law and order; they angle for genocide to attract the attention of the United Nations (UN) so as to find instigated reasons to write volumes of petitions to the ICC and eventually drag their political foes before the International Criminal Court (ICC) at the Hague for prosecution.
It is what is happening to Nigeria at the moment over the pretentious #EndSARS protests initially meant to scrap the Police unit, Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) for brutality and also, totally reform the Nigeria Police Force (NPF).
But most of those who delight in the feast of bloodletting, the exponents, the espousers of this retrogressive agenda hardly believe the ICC can also prosecute masterminds and inciters of violence anywhere to genocidal magnitude for crimes against humanity and war crimes. The ICC prosecutors investigate silently and stage out in action. It does not matter whether the leader in power is faulty and so, the rebellious actors who trigger mass deaths would go scot-free. All are suspects based on the level of culpability of each individual.
Femi Falana and his assemblage of thoughtless followers should beware. Protesting violently, burning police officers and their stations and other acts of arsons, killing of security personnel and innocent Nigerians in the guise of democratic protests or marketing inciting words by masked actors have never changed the narrative and focus of the ICC. The court at the Hague prosecutes even leaders of rebel gangs, provided enough evidence is gathered.
Other African countries have experienced the prosecution of those who insidiously sponsor violence and bloodshed to genocidal levels. And in Nigeria, those who claim to hate President Muhammadu Buhari and think the only way to get back at him is by barbaric bloodshed should be mindful of the likely repercussions of such destructive actions.
The self-righteous Obasanjos , the Falanas, the Tinubus and other acolytes who incite youths to violence and mass killings should take judicial notice of this timely reminder because Nigeria is a signatory to the ICC. African history is replete with the ICC’s prosecution of prominent opposition figures or rebel leaders who induce mass violence and genocide in their countries even years after the act. Charges of crimes against humanity or war crimes are slammed against them.
In Sudan, the ICC opened an investigation into crimes committed in the Darfur region in 2005, after the UN security Council referred the case to the international court under Resolution 1593. Among those who faced criminal charges were rebel commanders like Abdallah Banda Abakaer Nourain and Saleh Mohammed Jerbo Jamus. Abakaer Nourain was the former military commander in the rebellous Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), and Jerbo, a former leader in the Sudan Liberation Movement (SLM)-Unity faction among others who stirred more than a decade conflict in Sudan.
Also, after the five-year civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DCR), the ICC commenced prosecution of Thomas Lubanga Dyilo, the alleged founder and leader of the Union of Congolese Patriots (UPC) and leader of its military wing, the Patriotic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (FPLC). Alongside with Dyilo; Germain Katanga, the commander of the Force de Résistance Patriotique en Ituri (FRPI) and Ngudjolo Chui, the alleged highest-ranking commander of the Front des Nationalistes et Intégrationnistes (FNI), as co-conspirators in committing crimes against humanity as well as Calixte Mbarushimana, a militia political leader.
And the ICC also fenced Bosco Ntaganda, the alleged former deputy military commander of the FPLC militias and different other rebel groups under the auspices of the National Congress for the People’s Defense (CNDP), which operated in North Kivu.
In the Central African Republic (CAR) , the ICC, commenced prosecution of Jean-Pierre Bemba Gombo, former DRC rebel leader and later politician and successful businessman in CAR. Although Gombo became an influential person in his home country of CAR, but the ICC held him accountable for his cruel acts as commander of the rebellious Movement for the Liberation of Congo (MLC)during Congo’s civil war (1998-2003) and charged with crimes against humanity for alleged rape, pillaging and murder.
In Uganda, rebel commanders of the Lord’s Resistance Army(LRA) like Joseph Kony, Vincent Otti, Okot Odhiambo, Dominic Ongwen and Raska Lukwiya had a date with the ICC. Most of the suspects hedged prosecution and have remained in hiding. Many other opposition figures and rebel leaders in other African countries suffered similar fate in the hands of the ICC at the Hague.
Therefore, prominent Nigerians who covertly sponsor or incite violent protests, leading mass killings in the guise of exercising democratic rights are also not entirely free. The #EndSARS protests in Nigeria resonates with such echoes and those who erroneously think it ends with the veiled inflammation of the protests, violence and killings have miscalculated.
The likes of Femi Falana and the band of Nigeria’s street activists used as springboard to cause mass deaths should be guided accordingly. The fake news vendors, who circulate on social media cooked stories and videos of killings to incite protestors into insane vengeful violence and killings should know, there is always a price to pay after the act. So, Nigerians who shout hoarse and threaten other leaders with ICC prosecution should know their undercover roles are also documented.
Babalola Esq is a public affairs commentator based in Lagos.