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Crime & Court

After ruling, ICC moves to probe for war crimes in Israeli-Palestinian conflict

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The International Criminal Court’s ruling that it has jurisdiction over the situation in the Palestinian territories opens the way to it investigating alleged war crimes committed in the 2014 Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Gaza.

The 50-day war, which devastated the coastal enclave and left 2,251 dead on the Palestinian side, mostly civilians, and 74 on the Israeli side, mostly soldiers, has already been the subject of a five-year preliminary ICC probe and a string of critical reports.

Here is a look at previous reports and probes into the war between the Jewish state and Hamas, the Islamist group that rules Gaza:

ICC preliminary probe

In January 2015, ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda launched a preliminary examination into whether there was sufficient evidence to warrant opening war crimes investigations into the conflict. The examination involved both Israeli and Palestinian actions.

That long-running probe looked at the 2014 war and later at violence near the Israel-Gaza border in 2018.

In December 2019, the prosecutor said she wanted to open a full investigation, having been “satisfied that war crimes have been or are being committed in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip”, without specifying the perpetrators of the alleged crimes.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that position made the Hague-based court, which Israel has refused to sign up to since its creation in 2002, a “political tool” against the Jewish state.

Bensouda said she would first ask the ICC to make a jurisdictional ruling on the matter, due to “unique and highly contested legal and factual issues attaching to this situation”.

On Friday, the ICC ruled it had jurisdiction over the situation in “territories occupied by Israel since 1967, namely Gaza and the West Bank”.

Netanyahu again slammed the court, calling the ruling “anti-Semitic”, while the Palestinians — who became a state party to the court in 2015 — hailed it as “victory for justice”.

UN reports

On June 23, 2015, a report by a UN Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza conflict says it received “credible allegations” that both Israeli and Palestinian militants committed war crimes during the war.

The report followed a UN Security Council document published on April 27, 2015, that blamed the Israeli military for seven strikes on UN schools in Gaza that were used as shelters. Forty-four people were killed.

The independent experts who compiled the report also found that UN schools, while vacant at the time, were in three cases used to hide Palestinian weapons. In two of the cases, militants probably fired on Israeli soldiers from the establishments, the report found.

Rights groups

International human rights groups, including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, also accused both sides of war crimes.

In late 2014, London-based Amnesty said it documented eight instances in which Israeli forces attacked homes in Gaza “without warning”, killing at least 104 civilians, and alleged that the destruction of four multi-storey buildings late in the war breached international humanitarian law.

It also said “Palestinian armed groups also committed war crimes” in indiscriminately firing thousands of rockets into Israel, actions which left six civilians dead.

In May 2015, it accused Hamas, which has ruled Gaza since 2007, of war crimes against fellow Palestinians to “settle scores” during the war, notably the execution of at least 23 people.

US-based Human Rights Watch said in September 2014 that in three cases it examined, Israel caused “numerous civilian casualties in violation of the laws of war”.

The incidents were the separate shellings of two UN schools in northern Gaza on July 24 and 30, and a guided missile strike on another UN school in the southern city of Rafah on August 3.

The attacks killed a total of 45 people including 17 children, HRW said.

Israeli reports and investigations

Israel in June 2015 defended its conduct in the Gaza war as both “lawful” and “legitimate” in a detailed inter-ministerial report.

The authors acknowledged that “numerous civilians were caught in the hostilities”, but they added Israel “did not intentionally target civilians or civilian objects”.

Israeli military authorities carried out their own investigations into the conduct of their troops during the war and in April 2015 announced three soldiers had been charged with looting.

 

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Source: Channels TV

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Crime & Court

Oyo tailor assaulted by DPO gets justice

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Months after he was assaulted by the Divisional Police Officer (now former DPO) in charge of Iyaganku division, Ibadan, Alex Gwazah, Lukman Adeniyi, an Ibadan based fashion designer; has finally gotten justice.

Justice Rachael Boyede Akintola, sitting over Court 4, of the Oyo State High Court, Ibadan, has awarded a sum of N150,000 as damages and costs against a former Divisional Police Officer (DPO), Iyaganku, Ibadan, CSP Alex Gwazah, for infringing on rights of Lukman Adeniyi.

Delivering the judgement on Tuesday, Justice Akintola ruled that the act of the first respondent was unlawful in respect of the things he did to the applicant.

It will be recalled that Lukman Adeniyi had taken the matter to the High Court in December 2020 to enforce his fundamental human rights, after he was discharged by the magistrates’ court he was initially charged to.

The High Court awarded N50,000 as damages against the first respondent, while N100,000 was awarded in favour of the applicant.

In an affidavit sworn to by the applicant, the former DPO was named as the first respondent and the state commissioner of police was the second respondent.

He added that the second respondent had refused to take any step on the matter, despite his writing a letter of complaint through his lawyer.

But there was no award of damages against the second respondent.

The judge ruled that the second respondent could not be vicariously liable to act on the first respondent, saying that all the first respondent did were of his own volition.

According to the information scooped from the Nigerian Tribune,  after the furore raised over the initial arraignment of the fashion designer, Gwazah was redeployed from Iyaganku division to Quick Intervention Unit as the head.

In the affidavit, Adeniyi narrated how he was contacted by the DPO to sew clothes for him, but ended up being physically assaulted, detained in the cell and arraigned in court over accusation that he damaged his clothes.

He added that the charge was eventually struck off by a magistrate, Mrs Olajumoke Akande, sitting over Court 8, at Iyaganku Magistrates’ Court, for want of diligent prosecution.

This, the applicant said, was because the first respondent failed to attend court proceedings the two times the matter came up for hearing.

Adeniyi also pointed out in the affidavit that Gwazah failed to pay him his professional fee of N60,000, which he legitimately earned through mutual agreement, despite several demands.

He stated that since the matter was struck off the magistrates’ court’s list, he had been receiving threats from the first respondent on his rearrest and being dealt with, unless he dropped his demand for payment of the professional fee.

This, Adeniyi said, had made him to abandon his workplace at Oke Bola area of Ibadan.

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Crime & Court

Bawa outlines his vision for the EFCC

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The newly confirmed Executive Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Abdurasheed Bawa has revealed his vision for the anti graft agency.

The EFCC Chief promised to lead the anti- corruption agency by example and cut down discretion in the conduct of its affairs through institutionalizing a Standard Operating Procedure.

According to him,”What I envisage the EFCC to do is to ensure that we work on our own Standard Operational Procedure, to improve on our Standard Operational Procedures so much so that, all that is expected of us is written down somewhere in a document to curtail the use of discretion from the office of the Executive Chairman down to the ordinary investigator.

“We are looking forward to an EFCC whereby I as the Executive Chairman if I give an instruction to a junior officer, he will look at my face and say, Sir I understand your instruction but I will not be able to do it because of so and so Section governing the rules and regulations of the EFCC”.

He also stated that he was interested in establishing synergy with other law enforcement organizations, both nationally and internationally, and aggressively pursue the repatriation of seized assets.

“I have talked on the issue of synergy between the EFCC and sister security agencies in the country as well as the work I envisage to do together with our foreign strategic partners. We are going to work on that, we are going to strengthen it. The EFCC is not a lone ranger, we are going to reach out. The job of fighting economic and financial crimes is for everybody to be on board, and we will ensure that because we don’t have monopoly of knowledge.”

The new EFCC boss further expressed his desire to upgrade the skills of staff of the Commission through training, while also seeking the support of the lawmakers by way of appropriation.

In his words, “regarding the issue of repositioning, I have talked about processes and procedures and the law, but the backbone of every organization is its human resource. I hope and pray that we will still come back to this chamber for proper appropriation to enable us build the capacity of our staff at the EFCC and to meet up with the current challenges and new typologies of crime as well as trends in money laundering so that, at the end of the day, our vision of ridding this country of economic and financial crimes is actualized”.

On the vexed issue of management of recovered assets, the new EFCC Chairman said that going forward, the Commission will be more transparent and accountable, and  ensure that finally forfeited assets are disposed of immediately instead of leaving them dormant.

He equally pledged to work with the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Disposal of Federal Government Forfeited Assets, to ensure the success of their assignment, while also pursuing a programme of digitalization to guarantee the fidelity of assets record.

“We have, of course, the lingering problem or issues bothering on management of assets, etc. We will embark on the digitalization of the processes in the EFCC. In essence, what I am saying is that we are going to embrace technology to enable us keep our records properly so that anytime Nigerians are asking questions, it will just be a matter of pressing a button”,  Bawa continued.

In answer to a question, Bawa dispelled the allegation of illegally selling forfeited properties during his time as Head of the Port Harcourt Office of the Commission.

“I never sold a single truck at the Port Harcourt office, the head office handled that at the time.

“Anybody that is familiar with the processes of the EFCC knows that the chairman doesn’t have the power to sell an asset but the secretary of the agency. The former secretary and two directors came from the head office to conduct the sale”, he explained.

The EFCC boss assured that he would live to the expectation of the appointing authorities and teeming Nigerian youths who now look up to him as a model and ambassador.

“I am not unaware of the fact that my nomination has caused a lot of hope for millions of youths around the country, I want to state here that I am going to give them a good representation in the governance of this country so that at the end of the day, more youths will be given huge responsibilities in this country.

“Let me thank the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for finding me competent and deserving as the chairman of the EFCC and to also assure him and indeed Nigerians that the confidence he has in me will be proven beyond doubt at the end of my term in office,” he stated.

Bawa who is a certified fraud examiner and member of the prestigious America -based Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, and a Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist, has also been trained by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, FBI and the UK National Crime Agency.

As the fourth executive chairman of the EFCC, he is the first core staff of the Commission to occupy the office.

 

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By Idowu Ayodele 

Photo credit : Channels TV

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Crime & Court

Ogun socialite remanded for N35.5m scam

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Ibadan Zonal Office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC) on Monday arraigned one Mary Maisirat Akerele on a five count charge bordering on stealing to the tune of  Thirty Five Million Five Hundred and Twenty Thousand Naira (N35,520,000:00) before Justice Abiodun Akinyemi of the Ogun State High Court 4,Abeokuta.

It was learnt that trouble started for the 46-years-old socialite, who resides in Aseko area of Idiroko Ogun State, when the EFCC received a petition, alleging that she collected the said sum in installments from one Alhaja Oladoja Abike for the purpose of supplying four truck-load of rice from a rice milling company at Bida, Niger state but diverted the funds.

One of the charge reads: ” That you Mary Masirat Akerele (trading under the name and style of Goodness of Jesus Global Ventures) on or about the 19th day of September, 2018 at Abeokuta within the Abeokuta Judicial Division of the Honourable Court, fraudulently converted to your own use the sum of Eleven Million Naira (N11, 000,000.00) only property of Fausia Abike Oladoja and thereby committed an offence of stealing contrary to  Section 390 (9) of the Criminal Code, Cap. 30, laws of Ogun State, 2006”.

But, the defendant pleaded ‘not guilty’ when the charge was read to her.

Counsel to the defendant, H. A Omikunle  made an oral application for his client’s bail. However, Shamsuddeen Bashir, counsel to EFCC, opposed the application due to  the defendant’s failure to keep the terms  of the administrative bail earlier granted her.

Justice Akinyemi adjourned the case till March 4 for determination of the bail application and ordered the remand of the defendant in the Nigerian Correctional Centre, Ibara,Abeokuta

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