ACN Urges ICC To Investigate Baga Carnage, Calls It Crime Against Humanity

The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) has claimed that the killing of about 185 people, in Baga, Borno State, “may constitute crimes against humanity which should attract the attention of the International Criminal Court (ICC).”

The Desolated Baga Town after clash between the JTF and members of Boko Haram left at least 187 dead

According to the opposition party, the federal government should be investigated by the ICC because it is “either unwilling or unable to prosecute those involved, going by precedence.

“Either unwilling or unable to prosecute these crimes, despite the deceptive assurances by those at the helm, hence the ICC must immediately beam its search-light on the situation in Nigeria.”

The party made this known in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Lai Mohammed, on Thursday, where the party argued that “far beyond the justifiable call for a judicial commission of inquiry into the Baga massacre, it is time for leaders under whose watch these killings are being perpetrated, to be held to account.”

The ACN noted that “the killings in Baga, like previous ones in the areas where Boko Haram and the military Joint Task Force (JTF) have been engaged in clashes, are undoubtedly a widespread or systematic attack against a civilian population – the definition of crimes against humanity which is one of the four groups of crimes under the jurisdiction of the ICC.”

Noting that similar large scale extra judicial killing that occurred in Odi in Bayelsa State and  Zaki-Biam in Benue State occurred before 1 July 2002, when the Rome Statute setting up the ICC came into force, ACN argues that “the killings in the north, especially at Baga, fall within the temporal jurisdiction of the global court.”

The party blamed President Goodluck Jonathan, for the Baga killings for “failing to distinguish between support for security agencies battling the insurgents in the north and the incitement of the same forces against civilians who are caught in the cross fire.”

”When the President issued his tactless vituperation against community leaders, and by extension hapless civilians, during his visit to Borno and Yobe States, we warned that he was further victimising the victims of the insurgents’ attack. That action helped to set the stage for the mindless massacre in Baga,” the party said.

It is estimated that about 3,000 lives have being claimed in the violent insurgency which started in 2008, following the killing of Boko Haram’s leader by Nigeria’s security operatives.

According to the ACN, those engaged in the killings, including the Boko Haram sect, “cannot and must not get away with these heinous crimes” the party insisted.

It also noted the only reasons that the killing and maiming of innocent citizens have continued unabated in Nigeria is because such killings in the past as in Odi and Zaki Biam, went unpunished.

”Enough is enough! Even in countries at war, innocent citizens are not being daily mowed to death either by insurgents or state forces, as we are experiencing in Nigeria. It is clear that the Nigerian government is” the party declared.

Foreign Troops

Meanwhile, the ACN has urged the National Assembly to investigate how troops from foreign countries became part of the JTF troops battling the insurgents in the north

The party said this is important to find out who authorized the deployment of foreign troops in Nigeria and what their mandates are.

”We know that international troop deployments are authorized at sub-regional, continental or global levels. It is therefore important to find which body authorized the deployment of foreign troops to Nigeria, the same troops that are now said to have participated in killing and maiming of innocent Nigerian citizens,” it said.

Nigeria’s Economy Will Collapse In Two Years With Falling Oil Price, ACN warns

Opposition party, the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) has raised an alert of an impending collapse of the nation’s economy, unless the Federal Government cuts the ‘astronomical cost’ of running governance and takes urgent measures to diversify the Nigerian economy and shore up the nation’s production of crude oil.

The party in a statement issued in Lagos by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, warned that if the listed measures were not taken, the government may not be able to pay its bills, including workers’ salaries, within the next few years as the developed nations are currently working out modalities of crashing the crude oil price.

According to the statement, “the red alert was based on four empirical evidence: The cost of oil production which has skyrocketed from 4 dollars per barrel in 2002 to 35 dollars presently; the massive corruption in the oil sector, with oil theft and sabotage leading to lost production and costing Nigeria some 6 billion dollars annually in crude theft; the sharp fall in the discovery of new oil and gas reserves due to the low investment in the sector, and the most serious of all, the challenge posed by alternative sources of global supply of oil and gas.”

Crashing Crude Oil Price With Alternative Energy

ACN warned that all the challenges pale into little significance when placed against the challenge posed by alternative sources of global supply of oil and gas (Shale oil and Shale gas), which is now being discovered in massive quantity across Europe, Asia and the US.

”For the first time in nearly a decade, the US has regained the position of being the world’s largest producer of natural gas and soon also oil. Thus, in less than five years, the US has gone from seeking new sources of oil and gas overseas to being self-sufficient. Industry experts believe that Shale oil and Shale gas will revolutionize the industry—and change the world—in the coming decades. It will prevent the rise of any new cartels and alter oil geopolitics.”

”The announced objective of the US Government is to drive down oil prices from the current 100 dollars per barrel to 50 dollars per barrel within 2 years. If this happens, which is very likely in view of the alternative sources, Nigeria, with a cost of production of 35 dollars per barrel, would immediately go out of business, with dire consequences for an economy that thrives largely (if not solely) on oil,” the party warned.

The party noted that the signs of ‘imminent trouble’ in the nation’s oil sector are already visible for those who are willing to see.

“The Brass LNG Project is unable to take Final Investment Decision (FID) because of the collapse in the US LNG market and rising costs; and a similar situation faces the Olokola LNG Project” as it alluded to some of the lingering challenges in the nation’s oil and gas sector.

High Cost Of Operation in Nigeria’s Oil Sector

Citing the just-concluded Nigeria Oil and Gas Conference in Abuja, the party noted that the mind-boggling hike in the cost of oil production in the last decade was attributed to the cost of security in the Niger Delta.

”In other words, the gains recorded from ending militancy in the Niger Delta due to the Amnesty Programme have been wiped off by the cost of maintaining the ‘peace’.”

ACN also quoted the Managing Director of Shell Nigeria, Mr Mutiu Sunmonu, who described the situation as, “operating in the Nigerian oil and gas environment can be long and tortuous with costs at the high end of the global scale. There are a multitude of security related issues that have to be dealt with on a daily basis.”

The party further emphasised that ”in the recent past, militancy has simply been replaced by industrial scale oil theft and sabotage.

It lamented the poor level of discovering new oil and gas reserves compared to other countries, stating that the “disastrously-low level of exploration activity in Nigeria is supported by the statistics released by the US Department of Energy for deep-water discoveries from 2009 to 2011 in which Brazil alone contributed some 40 new discoveries or 20 per cent of the global total, US and Australia contributed 10% each, countries like Ghana making nine new discoveries or 5% of the global total, while Nigeria had only 4 discoveries or 2% of the global total during this period.”

The party blamed the paltry discovery of new oil and gas reserves on alleged low investment in the sector, which it claims, “needs to attract $15 billion annually in capital investment, up from the present $3 billion in order to remain a significant global oil supplier and a respected player in OPEC.”

ACN therefore called on the federal government to put on its thinking cap in order to rise to the challenges listed above and save Nigeria’s economy from collapse, adding that any delay could mean that “those in charge of the country’s affairs would not have enough time to change course as the ship of state heads for the rocks.”

The opposition party urged the ruling party and federal government not to see the warning as political rhetoric but a patriotic fervour devoid of politicking. ”Contrary to what the FG may say, this warning is not about crying wolf but is actually borne out of a patriotic fervour devoid of politicking, which is the usual refrain of this government when alerted to its shortcomings” it said.

ACN Demands Use Of Electronic Voting For 2015 Elections

Opposition party, the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) has demanded that it is time for the country to embrace electronic voting in order to ensure the integrity of its elections and hand over the elections back to Nigerians instead of the judiciary.

In a statement issued on Sunday, by the party’s National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, ACN declared that with electronic voting, the overall cost of elections will be less and there will be stability in the polity.

Referring to the overwhelming deployment of security operatives during elections, the party added that the atmosphere of war usually associated with elections will disappear and the involvement of the security agencies will be de-emphasized.

Admitting that Section 52 (2) of the Electoral Act bans the use of electronic voting for the time being, ACN urged the National Assembly to move quickly to amend that part of the law while it called on the federal government to provide INEC with all the resources needed to make electronic voting a reality.

”While electronic voting is not a magic wand, it is the surest way for Nigeria to join the league of countries that have wiped out electoral fraud, which is the worst form of corruption. It is also the best way to hand over Nigeria’s elections back to Nigerians, instead of having the judiciary determine who wins what contest. Two years is long enough to achieve this,” ACN said.

The party noted that Ghana, which has organized perhaps the best elections in this part of the world, has realized it can no longer continue with manual voting; hence it did not wait for troubles associated with electoral malfeasance to break out before embracing electronic voting during its last general elections in December.

”It is not just enough for us to sit back in envy while the world hails our neighbor Ghana for being a model in electoral rectitude and participatory democracy. Let us ask ourselves what we need to do differently, to shed our toga of electoral fraud and brigandage”

”Yes, there were some hiccups during the last elections in Ghana, which were conducted with electronic voting. But Ghana quickly moved to correct whatever problems came up. The system also allowed Ghana to extend voting without fearing that ballot boxes will be hijacked or stuffed,”

ACN said it is true that Ghana’s last presidential election that was conducted with electronic voting is currently being challenged in court, ”to the best of our knowledge, that’s the only case being contested in court since the elections ended.”

”It is totally unacceptable and indeed an anomaly for a nation of 160 million people to hand over the determination of its elections to a few ‘wise’ men and women on the bench.”

“One result of Nigeria’s successive failed elections is that it has brought corruption to the judiciary. It is time to free judges to do their duties and allow Nigerians to play more roles in determining who governs them,” it said.

The party pledged its support for e-voting stating that ”we assure INEC of our full support towards using electronic voting in 2015.”

It also appealed to other political parties, Civil Society Organizations and all Nigerians to join it in pushing for a system that will “eliminate the role of thugs and side line vote thieves during our elections, in addition to making our elections free, fair and credible” the statement read.