Former Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda of the International Criminal Court had called for a formal inquiry to begin into war crimes and crimes against humanity in Nigeria, in which she not only implicated non-state actors but also members of the Nigerian Security Forces. According to the prosecutor, the conflict had killed over 30,000 and displaced more than two million people (BBC News, 11 December 2020). The ICC’s preliminary examination, which began in 2010, had then concluded that the “criteria for opening an investigation into the situation in Nigeria have been met”.
Although this was a positive development towards some accountability, there were serious flaws in the Prosecutor’s approach. The religious aspect of the crimes committed against Nigerian Christians was being downplayed and the crimes against them were being minimized.
More than one year later there has been no progress. Intentions of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) to organize themselves to put pressure on the ICC prosecutor yielded no tangible results. Although the prosecutor of the ICC visited President Buhari, it is not clear what the effects of that visit were (WWR, 3 May 2022).
Nigeria, Country of particular Concern
Michael R. Pompeo, US Secretary of State, announced on 7 December 2020 that the USA designated Nigeria as Country of Particular Concern under the International Religious Freedom
Act of 1998, as amended, for engaging in or tolerating “systematic, ongoing, egregious violations of religious freedom.”
Although this news was welcomed with enthusiasm by many Nigerians, as it held hope that it would push the regime of President Buhari to improve their record on religious freedom, less than 1 year later (17 November 2021) the designation of Nigeria as Country of Particular Concern was officially ended (WWR, 24 November 2021).