Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, has called for the prosecution of former President Olusegun Obasanjo for genocide over the 1999 invasion of Odi community in Bayelsa State. The party described the invasion as genocidal, reckless, brutish and gross violation of the rights of the victims to life and ownership of property.
Reacting to a judgement delivered on February 19 by a Federal High Court in Port Harcourt on the suit filed by the members of the community, the party in a statement said:
ODI INVASION JUDMENT: BEYOND MONETARY COMPENSATION!
On 20th November, 1999, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, then President of Nigeria, authorized the invasion and subsequent destruction of Odi community in Bayelsa state by the soldiers of the Nigerian Army.
After more than twelve years of delayed justice, the Nigerian High Court Judge, Justice Lambo Akanbi, had described the invasion as genocidal, reckless, brutish and gross violation of the rights of the victims to life and ownership of property. In addition, the learned Judge ordered the Federal Government of Nigeria to pay N37.6 Billion as compensation to the victims.
In 2001, the same PDP-led regime of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, ordered the invasion of Zaki-biam, a community in Benue state, by soldiers with the same malevolent intent as the Odi invasion. Indeed, in a decided case in July 2007, the Federal Government was ordered to pay N4.8 Billion as compensation to the victims.
Undoubtedly, it is clear from these two decided cases that Chief Olusegun Obasanjo harboured sadistic and malevolent intent in dealing with the two Nigerian communities. In the judgment on the class suit No.FHC/PH/CP/11/2000 on the Odi invasion, Justice Lambo Akanbi ruled that the attack on the people of Odi was genocidal, reckless, brutish and a gross violation of the rights of the victims to life and to ownership of property.
In Article 5(1a) of the statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), genocide is a crime under the jurisdictional purview of the Court. Furthermore, Article 6 (a-c) of the same statute reads thus:
For the purpose of this Statute, â€œgenocideâ€ means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.
Undoubtedly, at the time of these infractions, the Nigerian State was not in a state of war with these communities. Indeed, the action typified the impunity and excessive show of executive recklessness that PDP-led regimes have evinced in the thirteen years of the Nationâ€™s latest acceptance of democratic governance. The various PDP-led regimes have given wider meaning to the use of the military to include over-militarization of the electoral process for the purpose of gaining undue advantage over the opposition.
As a Party, it is our belief that there is no amount of monetary compensation that can fully assuage the sense of colossal loss of these hapless communities, whose rights to life was indecently trampled upon by the PDP-led Federal Government of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. It is equally our belief that, with the establishment of the intent and content of the invasion as genocidal, the course of Justice is best served if the head of the government at the material time, that is, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, is formally arraigned before the International Criminal Court (ICC) for the crime of genocide. The wider implication of the arraignment shall be the institution of constitutional order and decency among the ruling elite so that the inalienable rights of the people to personal liberty and justice shall remain sacrosanct.
God bless Nigeria.
Rotimi Fashakin (Engr.)
National Publicity Secretary, CPC.
Monday, 4th March, 2013.