Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), on Wednesday, October 21, issued a petition to Mrs Fatou Bensouda, Prosecutor, International Criminal Court (ICC), urging her to “promptly investigate reports that Nigerian authorities, military, and some politicians have used/ and are using thugs, soldiers and security agents to intimidate, harass, attack and kill #EndSARS peaceful protesters in several parts of Nigeria, including Abuja, Lagos, Edo, Osun, Plateau, and Kano states.”
This was contained in a petition dated 21 October 2020 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare.
SERAP also urged Mrs Bensouda to “push for those suspected to be responsible for these crimes, mostly security officials, soldiers, some politicians and other actors who directly or indirectly have individually and/or collectively contributed to the attacks, deaths, and injuries, and are therefore complicit in the crimes, to be tried by the ICC.”
SERAP said: “The violent attacks on peaceful protesters in Lekki, Alausa, and other parts of the country also suggest the lack of political will by the government of President Muhammadu Buhari to respect people’s human rights, including the rights to life, dignity of the human person, freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, and association.”
The petition, reads in part: “Nigerian authorities, military, and some politicians have failed abysmally to ensure the enjoyment of the rights to life, dignity, freedom of expression and peaceful protest by the people. These events suggest criminal conduct within the jurisdiction of the ICC.
“SERAP believes that violence against protesters gives rise to the individual criminal responsibility of those suspected of perpetrating and/or failing to address the problem. as entrenched in the Rome Statute.
“The incidents of intimidation, harassment attacks and killings of peaceful protesters also strike at the integrity of the democratic process and seriously undermine President Muhammadu Buhari’s oft-expressed commitment to human rights and the rule of law, and to end impunity of perpetrators.
“Persistent attacks on peaceful protesters by Nigerian authorities, military, security agents as well as some politicians seriously undermine the people’s right to participate in their own government and have resulted in serious human rights crimes within the jurisdiction of the ICC.
“Ending impunity for attacks on peaceful protesters would improve respect for human rights in the country; and also empower the citizens to hold their leaders to account. Unless the citizens are freely allowed to exercise their right to protest; the pervasive culture of impunity will continue to flourish in the country.
“The government of President Muhammadu Buhari has repeatedly failed to address these grave human rights violations; which amount to crimes against humanity within the jurisdiction of the ICC.
“The CCTV monitoring cameras at the Lekki toll gate and street lights were reportedly turned off; before soldiers opened fire on peaceful protesters. This suggests a deliberate ploy by the authorities to cover up these crimes against humanity.
“Nigerian authorities, military, and politicians have failed to understand the seriousness of killings of peaceful protesters; and have been complicit in the commission of these crimes.
“SERAP urges you to investigate the killing of protesters; and other attacks perpetrated against protesters; and if there is sufficient admissible evidence prosecute officials; soldiers and any politicians for allegations of killing; and violence against protesters, as provided for under the Rome Statute; and other relevant treaties, to deter the crimes and end impunity in the country.
“SERAP believes that substantial grounds exist to warrant the intervention of the Prosecutor in this case. Under Article 17 of the Rome Statute, the Court is a court of last resort; expected to exercise its jurisdiction only if states themselves are unwilling or unable genuinely to investigate and prosecute international crimes.
“Also, pursuant to the Rome Statute, the Prosecutor has the power to intervene in a situation; under the jurisdiction of the Court if the Security Council or states parties refer a situation; or if information is provided from other sources such as the information SERAP is providing in this case.”