A rights organization, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), has petitioned the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Mrs. Fatou Bensouda, seeking a prompt investigation into the reported use of thugs, soldiers and security agents to intimidate, harass, attack and kill #EndSARS protesters in several parts of Nigeria by Nigerian authorities, military and some politicians.
In the petition, dated 21st October, 2020 and signed by its Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, SERAP urged the ICC prosecutor to ensure that those found culpable in the killing of innocent Nigerians protesting for their rights faced the full wrath of the law at the ICC. It further urged her to prevail on the Nigerian government to fulfill its obligations under the Rome Statute to cooperate with the ICC by arresting and surrendering suspected perpetrators of widespread and systematic crime of violence against peaceful protesters to the ICC.
SERAP also want the ICC to compel Nigerian authorities to ensure that Nigerians are afforded their right to life, dignity, freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association, while also ensuring reparations to victims, including restitution, compensation, rehabilitation and guaran-tee of non-repetition.
The organization said it noted with dismay that Nigerian authorities, over the years, have been unwilling and/or unable to prosecute suspected perpetrators of killing of protesters, which in turn has promoted a culture of impunity and emboldened authorities, the military, politicians and their accomplices who continue to commit human rights crimes against protesters.
It added that the violent attacks on peaceful protesters in Lekki, Alausa, and other parts of the country suggest the lack of political will by the government of President 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: “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 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 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 and 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 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 Buhari has repeatedly failed to address these grave human rights violations, which amount to crimes against humanity within the jurisdiction of the ICC. The use of thugs and soldiers against peaceful protesters has resulted in several deaths and injuries. Nigerian authorities have failed and/or neglected to prevent these crimes against peaceful protesters.
“Nigeria is a state party to the Rome Statute and deposited its instrument of ratification on 27 September 2001. It is, therefore, important to promptly investigate allegations of killings and other attacks on peaceful protesters if the ICC is to contribute to preventing escalations in the coming days, months and years. “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.
“According to our information, Nigerian authorities, military, and some politicians have used thugs, the police and soldiers to intimidate, harass, attack and shoot at peaceful protesters campaigning against police brutality across several parts of the country including Abuja, Lagos, Edo, Oyo, Osun, Plateau, and Kano states.”