By Tobi Soniyi
The Nigeria Coalition for the International Criminal Court (NCICC) has called on the Federal Government to direct the Committee on Victims Support Fund (CVSF) registered as the Nigeria Foundation for Support of Victims of Terrorism LTD/GTE, to help victims of Boko Haram atrocities by releasing money and materials to them. This is in line with one of the Foundation’s Terms of Reference, which is “to manage, disburse, and/or administer support to the victims as appropriate.” In the last few weeks, the Nigerian military has rescued over 1,500 women, girls and children abducted by Boko Haram. According to the United Nations Population Fund, about 214 of the women and girls rescued are currently pregnant, raising several issues that need to be addressed by the CVSF and other humanitarian agencies and organisations. The CVSF was set up in July 2014 by the federal government to meet the needs of victims of atrocities allegedly committed by Boko Haram. Every victim of terrorism and violence who qualifies to benefit from the fund can apply and be assisted. The CVSF raised the sum of N80 billion during a presidential fund raising event on July 31, 2014. In a statement issued and signed by the Chair and Member, NCICC Steering Committee, Chino Obiagwu and Oby Nwankwo respectively, the coalition said, “Although NCICC heartily commends the fund raising, our celebration has been short-lived considering that such funds raised are yet to reach the actual victims, who have sadly increased over several months since July 2014. “NCICC is therefore appealing to the federal government to prevent a re-occurrence of non- release of funds to the victims of the 2012 flood, which ravaged several states in Nigeria. The flood affected several Nigerians who were either killed, displaced or their properties destroyed. The federal government, in order to ameliorate the situation, not only provided a sum total of N18 billion, it also mobilised other Nigerian citizens to contribute funds to help the flood victims. However up till date, many communities have not accessed the funds. “The registration of the Victims’ Support Fund as a company limited by guarantee and the appointment of an Executive Director raises several legal issues regarding the status of the Foundation. Although the registration is commendable, NCICC believes that the bill to domesticate the Rome Statute of the ICC currently before the National Assembly offers a holistic approach to the fight against impunity in Nigeria. More so, the bill envisages a Special Victim Trust Fund (SVTF) to assist victims, families of victims and survivors of international crimes in Nigeria. “In this regard, NCICC calls on the President Jonathan administration to ensure that the funds reach those that need them and that everything possible is done to clarify the legal status of the CVSF and its relationship vis-à-vis the SVTF envisaged in the bill currently before the National Assembly. “The Presidency stated clearly at the 2014 Fund raising event that “the fund raising was part of government’s efforts at mobilising funds so that widows, orphans, those whose business premises had been vandalised, worship places such as mosques and churches that have been destroyed would be rebuilt”. According to the coalition, “It is time for the Government to make good its promise to mitigate the pain and suffering of innocent victims of Boko Haram attacks.” It also called on the in-coming administration of President-Elect Mohammadu Buhari to ensure that the proposed marshal plan for North-East Nigeria includes issues relating to accountability for crimes committed by Boko Haram, Nigerian soldiers and members of the Civilian Joint Task Force. “This calls for the immediate passage into law of the Rome Statute Domestication bill pending before the National Assembly. It also calls for making the support for victims and survivors of victims of Boko Haram insurgency a priority”, the coalition added.
culled from ThisDay