By John Ikani
Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) says the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) is set to seek authorization 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 disclosure contained in a statement issued on Sunday by SERAP’s Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, comes as the number of schoolchildren that have been abducted in the North since President Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), assumed office in May 2015 have been estimated to be no fewer than 2000.
According to the statement, the ICC prosecutor’s decision followed a petition sent to the court by SERAP.
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 authorization 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 analyzed, 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.”