The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has called Nigerians demanding investigation and trial of the former security chiefs as unpatriotic.
Mohammed said this on Tuesday in a Radio Nigeria programme tagged Politics Nationwide monitored by SaharaReporters.
The country was under severe attacks by Boko Haram and other terror groups when General Abayomi Olonisakin (Chief of Defence Staff), Lt. General Tukur Buratai (Chief of Army Staff), Vice-Admiral Ibok Ibas (Chief of Naval Staff) and Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar (Chief of Air Staff) were in office.
Since last week, when President Muhammadu Buhari relieved them of their jobs and appointed new service chiefs, Nigerians have been calling on the International Criminal Court in Hague, The Netherlands to investigate and prosecute them for their crimes against humanity.
Apart from some prominent Nigerians, the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party, and a group, The Concerned Nigerians, led by a human rights activist, Deji Adeyanju, also called for investigation into their alleged human rights abuses.
The group want as far as petitioning the ICC.
In the petition, Adeyanju stated that Buratai ordered the killing of unarmed Nigerians between 2015 and 2020, citing different scenarious.
“We write to call on the International Criminal Court and all lovers of democracy and human rights in the world to immediately investigate, arrest and prosecute Lieutenant General Buratai (Rtd) who was just relieved of his duty as Chief of Army Staff for crimes against humanity and the Nigerian people.
“It will be recalled that sometime in 2015, Lieutenant General Buratai (Rtd) ordered members of the Nigerian army to kill over 300 defenceless Nigerian Shiite Muslims on the unjustifiable grounds that they ‘touched a general’s chest’. That event has been appropriately tagged the Zaira massacre and it has further worsened the insecurity situation in Nigeria.
“Shortly thereafter, Lieutenant Buratai (Rtd) ordered the Nigerian soldiers to kill hundreds of Nigerian citizens of South Eastern extraction, in the guise of searching for members of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
“It is particularly noteworthy to mention that as at the time Lieutenant General Buratai (Rtd) ordered the massacre of IPOB members, the group had not been proscribed by the Nigeria government. Additionally, we have been able to gather from different independent sources that Lieutenant General Buratai (Rtd) personally ordered the killing of the innocent protesters at Lekki toll gate, Lagos, on October 20, 2020.
“It is on the basis of the foregoing, among other human rights abuses, that we call on the International Criminal Court and friends of Nigeria to urgently investigate, arrest and prosecute Lieutenant General Buratai (Rtd), to serve as a deterrent to members of the Nigerian Armed Forces and their civilian collaborators who have made it a point of duty to indiscriminately abuse citizens’ human rights,” Adeyanju wrote.
Reacting on Tuesday, Mohammed said those asking for such investigation and prosecution are unpatriotic and ignorant of the military structure.
“To the best of my knowledge, our service chiefs obey the rules of engagement and where there are infractions, there are internal regulations and internal mechanism to address them.
“Those who are calling for the ex-service chiefs to be invited to ICC are unpatriotic.
“Those who talk about the structure, what do they know about the structure of the military? I don’t think any of us is competent to talk about the structure of the military,” said Mohammed.