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#EndSARs Protest: ICC Opens Preliminary Investigation Into Alleged Abuse

The International Criminal Court (ICC) has stated that it is carrying out a preliminary inquiry into the recent #EndSARS protests which culminated in violence, after soldiers opened fire on unarmed protesters waving the country’s green-white-green flag, and singing the national anthem at twilight.

ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda
ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda

A statement from the office of the ICC said it received information on alleged crimes and brutalities in the West African country and therefore started into the allegation.

The statement indicated that examination will “assess whether the legal criteria for opening an investigation under the Rome Statute are met.”

The #EndSARS protest was a peaceful one where Nigerian youths gathered in streets and major towns across the country and demonstrated against police brutality leading to a crackdown.

Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari said 51 civilians, 11 police officers, and seven soldiers died during the protest.

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project petition ICC

The Deputy Director of the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), petitioned ICC’s prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda asking 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.”

The petition dated October 21, 2020, was signed by Kolawole Oluwadare. He urged the Court’s prosecutor 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.”

“The 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,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Nigerian government is yet to comment on this development.

BizWatchNigeria recalls that the Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami stated that hoodlums dressed as soldiers were behind the Lekki Tollgate shooting.

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