By Codratus Godson
Does the International Court handle local cases in countries without local courts giving it a shot? This may be tested as a state governor is set to take an election matter to the Hague.
Nigeria may witness its first local matter to go to the World Court as the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, has stated that the State Government has written to the International Criminal Court to prosecute the General Officer Commanding ( GOC) 6 Division of the Nigerian Army, Major General Jamil Sarhem for prosecution for crimes against humanity.
The Army had paraded government officials said to have been caught with election materials and offers of briber to soldiers.
Governor Wike however said instead of running in circles, the GOC should explain to Nigerians the reasons why the 6 Division stormed Collation Centres in Ikwerre, Emohua and Okrika Local Government Areas with INEC Electoral Officers, accusing him of stealing electoral materials and concocting results.
The Governor stated that the General Officer Commanding 6 Division issuing false statements will not save the GOC from prosecution.
Speaking during a media briefing in response to the allegations by the 6 Division that he tried to compromise soldiers of the 6 Division, Governor Wike described the allegation as false, malicious and diversionary .
He said: “We are doing a petition to the International Criminal Court. We are demanding justice for all those killed by the GOC and his lieutenants. We will also send a petition to all the major embassies in the country on the atrocities committed against Rivers people by the GOC and his soldiers. We have also ready sent a petition to the Chief of Army Staff on the criminal actions of the GOC”.
Governor Wike stated that he has credible intelligence that the GOC has concluded plans to open fire on his convoy, with the objective of causing a deadly shoot-out. He said Nigerians watched in utter dismay as three Local Government Electoral Officers of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC ) indicted soldiers of the 6 Division of the Nigerian Army for orchestrating electoral violence, snatching election materials and criminally colluding with APC leaders to concoct results during the Presidential and National Assembly elections. Rather than respond to these allegations, the GOC is making diversionary allegations.
“Mrs Mary Efeture Imawuya INEC Electoral Officer of Ikwerre LGA, INEC Electoral Officer for Emohua Local Government Area, Kenneth Etah and INEC Electoral Officer of Okrika Local Government Area of Rivers State, Mr Leo Okon who addressed the Rivers East Senatorial District Collation Centre at Elekahia were unequivocal in their indictments of the soldiers and their criminal activities during the elections”, he said.
“The major problem they should defend is the INEC Officers who declared that the soldiers of the Nigerian Army abducted them , carted away materials and concocted results”, he added.
The governor noted that it was the soldiers and a serving minister who abducted the Electoral Officer of Ikwerre LGA and compelled her to write results. Governor Wike denied ever making an attempt to compromise the electoral process . He denied ever offering money to the Soldiers to act illegally.
He noted that when the soldiers arrested the Rivers State Commissioner of Urban Development and Physical Planning, Reason Onya, for being among the approved PDP agents to escort materials, the Commissioner called him. He noted that he requested to speak with the Officer to demand the release of Onya who was on legal electoral function for the PDP. He said the officer who declined talking called back later and he informed him that Onya was on a legal assignment. He noted that no bribe was offered. “The Army cannot be a judge in their matter. You cannot parade officials on legal Electoral duties. You cannot change the narrative. They have violated all known laws”.