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  • Writer's pictureBJIL

Nigeria : A new hub of atrocities


Boko Haram, the name itself tells you much about their history and objectives. It is a militant group based in Nigeria which rests on the philosophy of Islam that any sort of contact with the Western civilization, be it education, culture or politics is forbidden or ‘haram’ according to Islam.

It all started when Mohammed Yusuf formed Boko Haram in Maiduguri in 2002. He set up a religious complex consisting a mosque and a school. This school supported a lot of poor Muslim families in Nigeria as well as from neighboring countries. However, its intention was not to spread education. Its political goal was to create an Islamic state, and the school became a recruiting platform of jihadis.

If we actually study the population composition of Nigeria in context of its geographical boundaries, we find that there are basically two sects of religious entities present in Nigeria viz. the Muslims and the Christians. The Christians live in the Southern part of Nigeria which economically well due to presence oil reserves in this region. In 2006 it was ranked as the largest producer of oil in Africa and 11th largest in the world. Needless to say, it is the hub of all the Multinational Companies and firms which not only provide employment, but are also investing in utilization of such resources promoting development, whereas the Northern region of Nigeria is dominated by the Muslim population and doesn’t enjoys abundance of natural resources in comparison to Southern Nigeria. It has also been a victim of poverty; corruption and no development took place in this region for the betterment of the society. As a result, it became a fertile ground for the spread of radical Islam. In 2009 its founder Mohammed Yusuf got killed in action by the Nigerian security forces. This was a reaction of the Nigerian government to this organization as it started carrying out military operations against the government with the objective of establishing an Islamic Caliphate.

The initial attacks of Boko Haram targeted the Christian population of Nigeria, so the people assumed that this group is against the Christians. But after some time, they started killing the Muslim population as well. So, it became clear that whosoever supported the Western culture in any manner, whether socially, politically or educationally is likely to be targeted by them. This led to huge unpopularity of this group among the people of Nigeria and among other radical islamist organizations. Even initially this group didn’t enjoy the sort of publicity in the media and public as the other groups of their domain like the Islamic State and Taliban did. This group became famous after an incident which took place in 2013 at the Chibok town of Nigeria, where about 300 school girls were abducted by the Boko Haram from their dormitories. This provided a lot of coverage to Boko Haram by the International Media due to the crime against humanity which they committed.

The day to day conflict happening between the Nigerian Security forces and Boko Haram has caused a lot of chaos and violence in the country. The main victim of all this are the citizens of Nigeria who have been suppressed from both the sides.

On 1 April 2015, the United Nations Human Rights High Commissioner Zeid Ra‟ad AlHussein revealed that the appalling atrocities committed by Boko Haram had created a critical human rights situation in northern Nigeria and the Lake Chad region. Since 2009, at least 15,000 individuals have been killed while women and girls have been subjected to horrific abuses. Apart from this, more than a million people have been displaced in Nigeria and at least 168,000 have fled to neighboring countries.

On one side there are reports of War Crimes being committed by the security forces and on the other hand we have Boko Haram waging war against the state and committing crimes against humanity. There is a need to discuss about the prosecution of such crimes on an international platform with the help of the previous instances, where such incidents occurred and what cognizance was taken by the court against the happening of such war crimes and crimes against humanities. But prior to the discussion of prosecution of such parallel incidents happened earlier, one needs to discuss the need of such issues to be raised at a global level.

1. Human Right Abusers must be put on hold

The incidents of war crimes being committed by the Nigerian Security Forces and Boko Haram committing the act of waging war against the state are amounting to the clear abuse of human rights of common residents of the nation. There’s an instant need to stop the ongoing sectarian violence as the continuance of such nuisance would lead to weakening of the democratic system thus creating a huge hindrance in the progress of the nation.

2. Sheer Terror spread among the common public

The current situation of the Republic of Nigeria lies to pathetic as the there lies a spread of sheer terror among the common public as the perpetrators of war crimes are responsible for the commitment of murdering aid workers and peacekeeping forces (NSF) are indulged in the act of barbarity without any repercussions from which the common public must be protected.

In the recent case of Prosecutor v. Bosco Ntaganda , the perpetrator was found guilty committing crimes against humanity and war crimes thus being charged under Article 7 and Article 8 of the Rome Statute respectively. The ICC held that Mr. Ntaganda was held guilty under major charges which included “crimes against humanity (murder and attempted murder, rape, sexual slavery, persecution, forcible transfer and deportation) and war crimes (murder and attempted murder, intentionally directing attacks against civilians, rape, sexual slavery, ordering the displacement of the civilian population, conscripting and enlisting children under the age of 15 years into an armed group and using them to participate actively in hostilities, intentionally directing attacks against protected objects, and destroying the adversary’s property).” He was held as direct perpetrator in the present case.

In an another case The Prosecutor v. Abdel Raheem Muhammad Hussein, the perpetrator held the post of Current Minister of National Defense and former Minister of the Interior and former Sudanese President’s Special Representative in Darfur. He was issued a warrant by the Pre-trial chamber for the confirmation of charges under “seven crimes against humanities” and “six war crimes”. These landmark judgments by the Trial and Pre- Trial chamber demonstrates that previously there have been occurrence of synonymous incidents like war crimes acts committed by the Nigerian Security Forces, thus the perpetrators in the instant case can be prosecuted on respected platform and likely justice can be achieved on such set precedents.

Several terrorist groups have also been kept committing crimes against the humanities to maintain their fear and control over the public since ever through various means, among such groups Boko Haram is also one. Similaarly in the discussed case named The Prosecutor v. Sylvestre Mudacumura, the perpetrator was the Commander of the Forces Démocratiques pour la Libération du Rwanda (FDLR). It is said that “Mr Mudacumura is suspected of nine counts of war crimes, allegedly committed from 20 January 2009 to the end of September 2010, in the context of the conflict in the Kivus, in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Sylvestre Mudacumura remains at large.” The Pre- Trial chamber held that Sylvestre Mudacumura has allegedly engaged his criminal responsibility as an indirect co-perpetrator under article under article 25(3)(b) of the Rome Statute and ended up issuing an arrest warrant against Mr. Mudacumura. This states that these crimes against humanity being committed by Boko Haram can be brought in conscience to ICC and effort can be delivered to give an attempt to get justice, peace and harmony.


It is well believed that “Justice is not moral luxury”. Victims who have faced inhumane acts against themselves which comes under the ambit of Crimes against Humanitites and War Crimes must be brought and served with justice. Thus now it has been high time and acts of Crime against Humanity and War Crimes being committed in Nigeria by NSF and Boko Haram must be raised to an international level. There can be several safeguards that can be practiced to tackle such issues that include looking after easy flow of arms to the terrorist groups with-in the territory. Controlling corruption in the administrative authorities and Monitoring and Control of Hate Speech Causing Incitement for waging of war against the state can be a good measure against such situations.


1. Name – Shivang

Course - B.A. LLb. (Hons.) 3rd Year student

Institution – Dr. Ram Manohar Lohiya National Law University, Lucknow.

2. Name – Rakshitt Bajapai

Course – B.A. LLb (Hons.)

Institution – Dr. Ram Manohar Lohiya National Law University, Lucknow.



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