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International Criminal Court (ICC)

International Court To Probe Buhari Over 1,000 Kidnapped Students

The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) has asked for an authorisation to open an investigation into cases of kidnap of over 1,000 schoolchildren in parts of northern Nigeria.

The prosecutor also wants to probe the 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 (SERAP), a statement by SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, stated.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) estimated that this year alone, there have been 20 attacks on schools in the country,1,436 children abducted, 16 children dead and more than 200 children are still missing.

The fund noted that at least one million school children among more than 37 million school children in Nigeria are afraid to return to school as schools.

In the petition submitted by SERAP to ICC, the organisation said, “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.”

Oluwadare said the 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.

He added, “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.”

“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.”

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