The International Criminal Court (ICC) has acknowledged a 27-page petition filed by Yoruba Nation agitators led by Emeritus Professor Banji Akintoye, leader of Ilana Omo Oodua, against President Muhammadu Buhari and other top government functionaries.
The acknowledgement was made known in a letter by Mark P. Dilon, the ICC’s Head of Information and Evidence Unit of the Office of the Prosecutor, and addressed to the petitioners’ lawyer on Tuesday.
Apart from Akintoye, the petition was also signed by Sunday Adeyemo, a Yoruba rights activist popularly known as Sunday Igboho; Raheem Aduranigba, Imam of Yoruba in Ilorin, Kwara State; Simisade Kuku, leader of Obinrin Oodua Agbaye; Babatunde Omololu, Leader of Yoruba Strategy Alliance; George Akinola, General Secretary of Ilana Omo Oodua; and 44 others.
The Yoruba Nation agitators in their petition accused the Nigerian leaders and security chiefs of genocide and crimes against humanity against the Yoruba people of Ekiti, Oyo, Osun, Ondo, Ogun, Okun Land in Kogi, and Kwara states respectively.
The petition to the ICC was filed against President Buhari, Abubakar Malami, the Attorney-General of the Federation; Tukur Buratai, former chief of army staff; and former Inspectors General of Police, Ibrahim Idris and Muhammed Adamu.
Other government officials petitioned against are Comptroller General of Customs, Hammid Alli; Inspector General of Police, Alkali Baba; Chief of Army Staff, Farouk Yahaya; former Chief of Air Staff, Sadiq Abubakar; former Commandant-General of NSCDC, Ahmed Abubakar Audi; Comptroller-General of the Nigerian Immigration Services, Mohammed Babandede and the Commandant-General of NSCDC, Abdulahi Gana Muhammadu.
The 27-page petition accused Buhari, Malami, Buratai, and others of Genocide offences such as killing members of the petitioners’ group; causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about physical destruction in whole or in part.
The petitioners claimed that “in Nigeria, there are ongoing violations of Human Rights, as expressed specifically in the Rome Statute, being perpetrated against the Yoruba People, particularly genocide under Article 6, and Crimes Against Humanity under Article 7, of the Rome Statute.
“As Nigeria is a state party to the Rome Statute, pursuant to Article 12.1, the precondition to the Court’s exercise of jurisdiction exists, we, therefore, urge the honorable Prosecutor to: act pursuant to Article 15.2, initiate the Court’s investigation pursuant to Article 15.3, and urge this honorable Court to exercise its jurisdiction, pursuant to Article 13(c), without limitation to the accused persons listed on page two of this communique, in connection
with the foregoing allegations,” the petition partly read.
Receiving the petition. the ICC’s letter to the petitioners’ lawyer read: “This communication has been duly entered in the Communications Register of the Office.
“We will give consideration to this communication, as appropriate, in accordance with the provisions of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
“As soon as a decision is reached to formally commence investigation into this petition, we will inform you, in writing, and provide you, with reasons for this decision.”
Responding to the acknowledgement by the ICC, Akinloye in a statement issued by Maxwell Adeleye, his Communications Manager, said: “We Yoruba people must now move forward to accomplish our Yoruba nation’s self-determination by holding a referendum. A referendum is exactly like a regular election in which people line up at voting stations to vote for a candidate.
“I want a Yoruba Republic separate from Nigeria. Each voter will be able to vote yes or no. That is the Yoruba nation referendum.
“But we Yorubas need to take some steps before we can get our referendum. The first step is to make a strong statement loud and clear that we Yorubas want a referendum. The best peaceful way to make that statement is to circulate a petition among us that we want a referendum.”