The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) is set to seek authorisation from the Pre-Trial Chamber of the court to begin an investigation into cases of abduction of school children in parts of northern Nigeria, closure of schools, and the persistent failure of Nigerian authorities at both the federal and state levels to end the abduction.
Africa Today News, New York reports that no fewer than 2,000 schoolchildren have been abducted in the North since President Muhammadu Buhari, assumed office in May 2015.
The prosecutor of the ICC is set to seek authorisation from the Pre-Trial Chamber of the court to open an investigation into cases of abduction of schoolchildren in several parts of northern Nigeria, closure of schools, and the persistent failure of Nigerian authorities at both the federal and state levels to end the abduction.
The ICC prosecutor’s decision followed a petition sent to the court by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project.
This development was disclosed on Sunday in a statement by SERAP’s Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare.
SERAP had in the petition dated September 4, 2021, urged the ICC prosecutor, Mr Karim Khan, to ‘push for those suspected to be responsible and complicit in the commission of these serious crimes, to be invited and tried by the ICC.’
In the petition, SERAP argued that, ‘The severe and lifelong harms that result from depriving children the right to education satisfy the gravity of harm threshold under the Rome Statute.’
Responding, the ICC prosecutor in a letter with reference number OTP-CR-363/21, and dated October 22, 2021, confirmed to SERAP that ‘the criteria for opening an investigation into a string of abductions and closure of schools in some parts of Nigeria have been met.’
The letter signed on the prosecutor’s behalf by the Head of the Information and Evidence Unit, Mark Dillon, read in part, ‘On behalf of the Prosecutor, I thank you for your communication received on 13/09/2021, as well as any subsequent related information.
‘The preliminary examination of the petition is considered complete. Under Article 53 of the Rome Statute, the next step in the judicial process is for the Prosecutor’s Office to prepare and submit a request to the Pre-Trial Chamber for authorisation to open an investigation on Nigeria.
‘Once submitted, the request will be made publicly available on the court’s website: www.icccpi.int.
‘Your communication will be forwarded to the relevant team to be analysed, together with other related communications and other available information, in the context of any future investigations. We thank you for your interest in the ICC.’
SERAP said by this decision, the ICC prosecutor has taken a significant step toward ensuring that those suspected to be responsible for grave crimes against Nigerian schoolchildren are exposed, and held to account.
‘The victims of these crimes deserve justice. Impartial justice and reparation will deal a decisive blow to impunity of perpetrators, and improve access of Nigerian children to education. SERAP will work closely with the ICC to achieve these important objectives,’ SERAP said.
SERAP’s petition to the ICC prosecutor stated that senior government officials ought to know that their failure to prevent crimes will violate the children’s human rights and dignity
‘The absence of any tangible and relevant investigation or prosecution in Nigeria suggests that the authorities are unwilling or unable to carry out genuine investigation or prosecution of those suspected to be responsible for and complicit in the abduction of students,’ the petition read.
In the petition, SERAP stated that consequences of persistent abductions of students, closure of schools, and the failure to provide safe and enabling learning environments despite federal and state authorities yearly budgeting some ₦241.2billion of public funds as ‘security votes’, are similar to those of the offences in Article 7(1).
AFRICA TODAY NEWS, NEW YORK