The International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague has said it will investigate the September 2017 invasion of a community in Abia State by soldiers of the Nigerian Army during a military exercise code-tagged Operation Python Dance 2 (Egwu Eke Abuo).
The Office of the Prosecutor, ICC, stated this in response to a petition filed to the court by a Nigerian journalist, Ahaoma Kanu, following the military occupation of Afara Ukwu community in Umuahia, Abia State, in an attempt to arrest the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, which led to the alleged killing of several unarmed members of the splinter group.
In the letter numbered OTP-CR-413/17 and dated March 20, 2018, ICC confirmed that the alleged military invasion and deaths recorded were already under preliminary examination by the Office of the Prosecutor.
Part of the letter signed by Mark Dillon, head of the information and evidence unit at the Office of the Prosecutor, read: “Accordingly, your communication will be analysed in this context, with the assistance of other related communications and other available information.”
Dillon stated that “under Article 53 of the Rome Statutes, the prosecutor must consider whether there is reasonable basis to believe that crimes within the jurisdiction of the court have been committed, the gravity of the crimes, whether national systems are investigating and prosecuting the relevant crimes, and the interests of justice.”
He went further to say that “analysis will be carried out as expeditiously as possible, but please be aware that meaningful analysis of these factors can take some time.”
He further pledged to provide reasons for any decision reached by the court to proceed with the investigation.