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Rights group asks ICC to investigate Nigeria presidential candidate

[JURIST] The Nigerian human rights group Northern Coalition for Democracy and Justice (NCDJ) on Monday urged the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official website] to investigate and charge presidential candidate Muhammadu Buhari [BBC profile] for post-election violence in 2011. The NCDJ alleged the violence, during which more than 800 people were killed, included acts of murder, torture and rape systematically directed at perceived non-supporters of Buhari. Buhari has been chosen as the candidate for the All Progressives Congress [party website] party, though approval for him has been mixed. Buhari was the military ruler of Nigeria from 1984 to 1985 and was deposed in a coup. He has a poor human rights record due to repressive tactics. The NCDJ previously referred Buhari to the ICC in 2011 and decided to submit more evidence after he emerged as the main candidate in the presidential elections. Nigeria became a party to the Rome Statute [text, JURIST backgrounder] in 2001, establishing the ICC's jurisdiction.

The ongoing insurgency campaign by Boko Haram [BBC backgrounder] in northeastern Nigeria has killed thousands since 2009. Earlier this month human rights group Access to Justice (A2Justice) [advocacy website] and eight other civil rights groups brought [JURIST report] Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan [BBC backgrounder] before the Federal High Court [official website] in Abuja with the goal of forcing an investigation into alleged war crimes committed by members of the Nigerian military and the state-sponsored militias, the Civilian Joint Task Force [CFR backgrounder]. In October a Nigerian federal court ruled [JURIST report] in favor of the Bring Back Our Girls group [advocacy website], saying that the police had no right to block protests in Nigeria. In May the UN criticized Boko Haram for kidnapping [JURIST report] more than 200 Nigerian schoolgirls in April with the intention of selling them and "marry[ing] them off." In March Amnesty International published a report denouncing the extremists [JURIST report] and security forces for committing war crimes, often against civilians and urged the parties to abide by several applicable international human rights charters, covenants and courts as well as the humanitarian stance of the UN.

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