Nigerian NGO petitions ICC over abduction of students in northern Nigeria

Nigeria's Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate the growing cases of…

Nigeria’s Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate the growing cases of abduction of students in several parts of Northern Nigeria and the closure of schools.In the petition to Mr. Karim A. A. Khan, Prosecutor, International Criminal Court (ICC), SERAP, the Non-governmental Organisation stated that the persistent failure of Nigerian authorities at both the federal and state levels to end the abduction amounted to “crimes against humanity within the jurisdiction of the ICC”.

SERAP in the appeal on Sunday by its Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, urged ICC’s prosecutor “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”.

The petition followed a string of abductions and closure of schools in some parts of Nigeria, including the recent one in Zamfara State in northern Nigeria after scores of students were abducted by gunmen from a state-run high school in Maradun district.

In the petition dated September 4, 2021 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization said: “Depriving children of their right to education has severe consequences for their ability to access their fundamental rights. The severe and lifelong harms that result from depriving children of the right to education satisfy the gravity of harm threshold under the Rome Statute”.

SERAP said: “Investigating and declaring cases of abduction of Nigerian students and closure of schools, and the failure by the Nigerian authorities to provide safe and enabling learning environments as crimes against humanity would help to combat impunity, deter future human rights abuses, and improve access of the children to education.”

According to SERAP, “persistent and discriminatory denial of education to girls is a crime against humanity. Repeated abductions, the absence of safe and enabling learning environments, and the resulting closure of schools give rise to individual criminal responsibility under the Rome Statute.”

“The crime of abduction is not just a deprivation of a single fundamental human right, but a wholesale effort to re-engineer society and to deny children, including girls their human dignity and agency in all aspects of their lives. Lack of education for girls and women has been shown to have negative impacts on their children and family.

“The persistent failure by Nigerian authorities to end the widespread and systemic abductions, and to provide safe and enabling learning environments for Nigerian children to enjoy their right to quality education amounts to crimes against humanity, which fall within the jurisdiction of the ICC.

“While the Nigerian authorities have primary responsibility to investigate and prosecute the alleged crimes of abduction of students, they have repeatedly failed and/or neglected to do so,” local media reports on Monday quoted SERAP as saying in the petition.


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