African Bar Association Rejects ICC Investigation into Nigerian Army

The President of the African Bar Association (AfBA), Hannibal Uwaifo, has said that the association will oppose the ongoing investigation into the Nigerian military by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Uwaifo said so during the opening of the first Conference on the Law of Armed Forces and Other Security Agencies 2022 yesterday in Abuja on the theme “Enhancing the Operational Capabilities of African Armed Forces and Other Security Agencies: Law in as a vital instrument”.

He said the AFBA had, at its 2021 annual conference in Niamey, Niger Republic, expressed its opposition to the ongoing investigation into the Nigerian military by the ICC.

He reaffirmed that the AFBA would not support him and put in place all the mechanisms to make it clear to the ICC and to steer him away from that direction.

“We believe that the ICC should prosecute the financiers, supporters and promoters of these internationally recognized crimes who claim and continue to claim our security forces and innocent civilians, including women, children and the elderly every day.

“Countries will not continue to leave their defense in the hands of civilian government officials as they are not permanent and may not have the ability to navigate the internal workings of the ICC.
“The AFBA has established a commission of senior legal experts who are ICC registered lawyers, headed by a former president of the ICC Bar Association and life member of the AFBA Council , Chief Charles Taku.

“The AFBA will discuss this line of support with the Nigeria Defense Headquarters and leaders of other armed forces in Africa who require support,” he said.

The AFBA President said the conference was organized in conjunction with the Defense Headquarters to address the many complex security challenges facing the African continent.

He added that terrorism, banditry, kidnappings and scores of violent attacks are commonplace in most countries on the continent where the military and other security agencies enforce the law in their dealings and trainings.

Therefore, he said it was essential to employ legislative reform to build personnel capacity to meet global standards of engagement, especially in the asymmetric operations in which the armed forces were currently engaged.

According to him, the role of the military lawyer in the armed forces and other security agencies is very fundamental.

“Operational commanders are expected to seek legal advice and refuse it at their own risk.

“They are expected to know the latest in the legal field and be prepared to defend decisions made with their input,” he said.

Chief of the Defense Staff (CDS), General Lucky Irabor, said the conference would help generate new approaches to countering security challenges through legal compliance.

Irabor, who was represented by the Chief of Defense Administration, Rear Admiral Muhammed Nagenu, said the conference was proof enough of the developing synergy between African military and civil society actors.

He said the conference will also generate a panacea to the security challenges on the continent ranging from insurgency, insurgency, banditry, terrorism, kidnappings and separatist unrest among others.

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