The Chief Prosecutor of the Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC) Luis Moreno Ocampo has said that the court is analyzing issues concerning the crises that occurred in Jos to establish potential crimes against humanity.
The ICC's interest to launch an examination of the violence that erupted in Jos last year was as a result of petition filed by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) to Mr Ocampo's office.
The petition requested Ocampo to use his position "to investigate proprio motu allegations of unlawful killing of at least 326 people and perpetration of other crimes under international law during the violence in January 2010 in Jos, Plateau State of Nigeria; and the reports that the military and police used excessive force against both Christians and Muslims in responding to the violence."
In the letter with reference number OTP-CR-58/10, dated 5 November 2010, and signed on behalf of Mr Ocampo by M.P. Dillon, Head of Information and Evidence Unit of the Office of the Prosecutor, the ICC said that, "On behalf of the Prosecutor, I thank you for your communication received on 01/02/2010, as well as any subsequent related information.
"The Office is analyzing the situation identified in your communication, with the assistance of other related communications and other available information. Under Article 53 of the Rome Statute, the Prosecutor must consider whether there is a 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. Analysis will be carried out as expeditiously as possible, but please be aware that meaningful analysis of these factors can take some time."
SERAP's lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana, who had sent the petition to the ICC on behalf of the group, in his reaction to the development said "this is fantastic news for the victims of the unlawful killing and other abuses that took place in Jos earlier this year, and previous outbreaks of deadly violence in the city.
"It is also good news for international justice especially given the persistent lack of political will by the Nigerian government to address the problem. The intervention by the ICC in this case is absolutely important as the ICC can once and for all address the responsibility of those who instigated the violence in Jos. Ending impunity for the cycle of violence in many parts of Nigeria is essential for sustainable peace, stability and security, and for the country's social, economic and political development," he said.