•EiE, CSNAC, WELA too in the vanguard for UN sanctions push
By Augustine Osayande
Activists have sent an open letter to members of the UN Security Council urging the council to “urgently initiative, support and adopt a resolution expressing grave concerns about the deteriorating human rights and humanitarian situation in several parts of the North-east of Nigeria in the context of the armed conflict between the Nigerian government and the Islamist group Boko Haram.”
In the letter dated 14 November 2014, the groups want the council to “request the AU and ECOWAS to sanction any neighbouring states that may aiding and abetting international crimes through weak border controls and other means; and banks that fail to monitor cash transactions in and out of their branches and thereby enable groups like Boko Haram to launder tainted money.”
The groups are: Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), Enough is Enough Nigeria Coalition (EiE Nigeria), Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC), and Women Empowerment and Legal Aid Initiative (WELA)
According to the groups, “Initiating, supporting and adopting the proposed resolution will send a powerful message that the international community has not abandoned the victims and in fact ready to play a meaningful role to end the conflict which has continued to result in serious human rights violations, such as the unlawful killing and displacement of thousands of people.”
The groups said that, “Support from all Member States is important to demonstrate that an important institution of the UN committed to promoting international peace and security stand with the people of Nigeria.”
They asked the council to “request the Secretary-General to appoint a Special Representative on the situation in the Northeast of Nigeria to investigate the complicity of any ECOWAS members, individuals or organizations and to report to the Council at regular intervals on the implementation of the proposed resolution.”
The groups said that, “We strongly believe that the human rights and humanitarian situation in the Northeast of Nigeria now meets the threshold of “definite threat to international peace and security” in Article 39 of the UN Charter, thus requiring immediate and urgent action by Member States of the Security Council.
“We believe that Member States now stand at a crossroads in their approach to the human rights and humanitarian tragedy in north-east of Nigeria. Now is the time for Member States to stand with the victims of serious violations of human rights in Nigeria if they are not to be accused of double standard in the discharge of the important mandates of the Security Council,” the groups also said.
“We are seriously concerned that the crisis continues to have devastating effects on the civilian population, in particular the most vulnerable and disadvantaged sector of the population such as the poor, children, women and elderly,” the groups said.
The groups also said that, “It has been shown that the Nigerian security forces are unable or unwilling to deter or halt the increasing attacks. The international obligations and commitments by the government to respect, protect and fulfil the human rights of the citizens against attacks are observed more in breach than compliance. Widespread poverty, corruption, security force abuses, and longstanding impunity for a range of crimes have created a fertile ground in Nigeria for militant armed groups like Boko Haram.”
The groups therefore urged member states to initiate, support and adopt a resolution that would:
1. Express Member States’ grave concerns over the continuing deterioration of the human rights and humanitarian situation in the Northeast of Nigeria, and encourage all efforts aimed at restoring lasting peace and stability.
2. Request Member States to fully cooperate with one another and with the African Union (AU) andEconomic Community of West African States(ECOWAS) Member States and urge them to identify possible funding and support networks for Boko Haram and to disrupt these. Funds are the lifeline to promote a militant ideology, pay operatives and their families, arrange for travel, train new members, forge documents, pay bribes, acquire weapons, and stage attacks. The best way to dry up those funds is to freeze and confiscate the wealth of people who finance murder and other international crimes. When funds available to Boko Haram are constrained, their overall capabilities will decline, thus limiting their reach and effect. As the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has stated, “disrupting funding flows creates a hostile environment for terrorism, constraining the overall capabilities of terrorists and helping frustrate their ability to execute attacks.”
3. Request Member States, AU and ECOWAS members to ensure that their financial institutions implement enhanced reporting mechanisms for suspicious transactions and to identify banks that are providing financial services to money laundering and terrorist financing. It is important that banks implement sufficient controls on high-risk accounts to safeguard against money-laundering, corruption and terrorist financing and to cut off the flow of money to terrorism through formal banking channels such as wire transfer operations.
4. Request Nigeria to identify, name and shame and bring to justice anyone responsible for financing the activities of Boko Haram through speedy trials.
5. Request Member States, the AU and ECOWAS to sanction any neighboring states that may be aiding and abetting international crimes through weak border controls and other means; and banks that fail to monitor cash transactions in and out of their branches and thereby enable groups like Boko Haram and their sponsors to launder tainted money.
6. Request all Member States of the AU and ECOWAS to identify and sanction any neighboring states aiding and abetting the operations of Boko Haram and to freeze the economic resources of any individual or organization supporting or encouraging Boko Haram, and to prevent their entry into or transit through their territories, and prevent the supply, sale, and transfer of arms and related material to them.
7. Request that the Nigerian Government prioritize the protection of its citizens by ensuring the security agencies are equipped in all areas to fight the war; providing adequate information to citizens; evacuating necessary areas and providing welfare support to the over 1 million internally displaced people.
8. Elaborate any provisional measures that is deemed necessary or desirable to end continuing violations of international human rights and humanitarian law in the Northeast of Nigeria.
9. Requests the Secretary-General to appoint a Special Representative on the situation in the Northeast of Nigeria to investigate the complicity of any ECOWAS members, individuals or organizations and to report to the Council at regular intervals on the implementation of the proposed resolution.
Five permanent members of the council are: China, France, Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Ten non-permanent members elected for two-year terms by the General Assembly are: Argentina, Australia, Chad, Chile, Jordan, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Nigeria, Republic of Korea, and Rwanda.
Boko Haram has killed thousands of people since 2009 and the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) of Nigeria reports that more than 1.5 million people have been internally displaced since the beginning of the state of emergency in the northeast in May 2013. Women and girls abducted by the Boko Haram are forced to marry, convert, and endure physical and psychological abuse, forced labor, and rape in captivity. The bulk of the attacks against the civilian population are taking place in Borno State, Adamawa State and Yobe State. Attacks have taken (and continue to take) place in schools, marketplaces, and places of worship in villages, towns and even cities. The nature and frequency of the attacks indicate the actions of an organized and well-resourced movement. Unfortunately, despite the declaration of state of emergency in some states, the situation is deteriorating as attacks against civilian population are reported almost daily.