Lekki: Over 100,000 Petitions Flood ICC As UK Parliament Seeks Trial Of Buhari

Lekki: Over 100,000 Petitions Flood ICC As UK Parliament Seeks Trial Of Buhari
  • Moves to impose arms embargo

BY Abdullateef Taiwo Bamgbose

The International Criminal Court (ICC) said it has received information alleging crimes in Nigeria following the violent dimensions that the #EndSARS protests have taken across the country.

Fatou Bensouda, ICC prosecutor, made this known in a statement posted on the court’s Twitter handle Thursday, October 22.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) was reacting to the reported shooting of #EndSARS protesters at Lekki Toll Gate, Lagos, by soldiers.

The shooting has attracted global outrage against the Nigerian authorities. The number of deaths from the incident is yet to be ascertained.

“My office has been closely following the events around the current protests in Nigeria and the reaction of Nigeria’s law enforcement and security agencies,” said, the ICC prosecutor, FatouBensouda.

“Any loss of life or injury is concerning. We have received information alleging crimes and are keeping a close eye on developments, in case violence escalates and any indications arise on that Rome Statute crimes may have been committed,” she added, while calling for restraint.

As the ongoing protests against police brutality and bad governance escalate into more violence across Nigeria, those responsible for violating human rights must be brought to book, the EU  has said in its reactions

AljazirahNigeria  has been reporting how the EndSARS demonstrators are taking to the streets to protest against police brutality in Nigeria after a viral video emerged on social media showing a man being beaten allegedly by officers from the police Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) unit.

The protests, which began peacefully, escalated claiming several lives.

But many world leaders and celebrities including Hilary Clinton, Joe Biden, Rihanna and Beyonce have criticized the current crackdown by security operatives on protesters.

EU calls for Justice

The EU said in a statement that “It is crucial that those responsible of abuses be brought to justice and held accountable.”

It said as the Nigerian government expressed the will to deliver on reforms, “we expect to see decisive implementation.”

AljazirahNigeria can authoritatively confirm that Over 170,000 people have signed a petition for the UK government to implement sanctions against the Nigerian government and officials for violating human rights during the demonstrations.

Protesters have five core demands which include the scrapping of SARS, justice for the families of victims of police brutality, retraining of SARS officers before being redeployed to other police units, and an independent body to oversee investigations into police brutality.

Although the Nigerian government met some of the demands of the protesters, but the protests have continued.

Meanwhile the pressure on United States, EU and the United Kingdom to impose arms embargo on Nigeria, AljazirahNigeria gathered has trigger some fresh fear that the war against insurgency in the North-east might assume a worrisome dimension.

Indeed, following the reported cases of human rights abuses by the federal government of Nigeria during the former President Goodluck Jonathan, the US and other world powers had declined selling arms to Nigeria until November 2018 when the Donald Trump administration after a diplomatic shuttle to the US approved the contract for the manufacturing of 12 A 29 Super Tucano Combat aircraft for the Nigeria Air Force.

 The contract was awarded to Sierra Nevada Corporation, an American aerospace contractor, for an initial sum of $329 million. A clause, described as “undefinitised contract action (UCA)”, was, however, added that the contract sum could be varied, but not exceeding $344.7 million.

A defence contracting explainer said the UCA involves contracts whose terms, specifications, or price are not agreed upon before work commences.

This could be because the negotiation of a definitive contract action is not possible in sufficient time to meet the government’s requirements or a government’s interest demands that the contractor be given a binding commitment so that contract performance can begin immediately, and shall be as complete and definite as practicable under the particular circumstances.

Six of the aircraft would be equipped with Forward Looking Infrared System, a technology that senses radiation which is then converted to video output.

As part of the contract for the 12 Super Tucano combat jetliners, the Nigerian Air Force would receive ground training devices, mission planning systems, mission debrief systems, spares, ground support equipment and alternate mission equipment, the U.S. defence department said.

There would also be a contiguous U.S. interim contractor support, outside of continental U.S. (OCONUS) contractor logistic support, and five field service representatives for OCONUS support for three years, the U.S. Defence Department said.

President MuhammaduBuhari placed order for the aircraft, following extensive discussions with the U.S. government that led to the relaxing of a moratorium placed on military equipment sales to Nigeria.

Mr Buhari said the procurement would help strengthen Nigeria’s national security, as well as timely end to the Boko Haram war.

The Nigerian government transferred $469.4 million to the U.S. government in April, according to a letter he wrote to the National Assembly.

It was not immediately clear whether the Nigerian government was aware the project would not be delivered until 2024, six years away, but went ahead with the narrative that it would come by 2020, anyway.

Also it was unclear why the contract was being awarded for $344 million (N125.3 billion) when Mr Buhari said he transferred over $469 million (N168.8 billion) to the U.S. for the aircraft.

That leaves a difference of N43.5 billion yet unaccounted for.

The embattled A former governor of Lagos State and a national leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress, Bola Tinubu, had advised the federal government to fish out whoever who gave the directive for the shooting of the protesters  (for the shooting) and put them on trial”.

However, on the current crises across the nation, Mr Tinubu, who described himself as an “unapologetic protester”, appealed for calm. He said he was ready to “face all inquiries” over the incident because of the allegations against him.

“We have lost our sleep, we have lost our peace of mind, (and) we just have to deal with it,” Mr Tinubu added.

President Buhari in a nationwide broadcast over the weekend however, was silent on the fate of the Soldiers who invaded the Lekki Toll plaza where scores of protesters were killed.

Despite mounting evidence, the army had equally denied their involvement in the shooting.

Apart from the pressure on the international Communities to revisit the arms embargo and military training in Nigeria, the International Court of Justice has waded into the orgy of violent killing in the last three weeks in Nigeria, an indication that those responsible would be brought to book

 According to Bensouda, a prosecutor with the  ICC,  the ICC is keeping an eye on the developments in the aftermath of the #EndSARS protests in Nigeria.

She called on all Nigerians to remain calm and urged them to exercise restraint.

Senior officials of the United States Government on Thursday met with Vice-President YemiOsinbajo and expressed displeasure over the shooting of unarmed protesters at the Lekki toll plaza.

The US also demanded that the soldiers behind the shootings be brought to book.

The Spokesperson for the State Department, Morgan Ortagus, said in a statement that the officials were led by Counselor of the US State Department, Ulrich Brechbühl.

Others at the meeting include: Assistant Secretary Robert Destro and Assistant Secretary Denise Natali.

The officials, according to the statement, raised concerns over the ongoing violence in Nigeria as well as human rights violations and human trafficking.

The statement read in part, “Counselor T. Ulrich Brechbühl met with Nigerian Vice President YemiOsinbajo last week in Abuja, Nigeria as part of a previously scheduled delegation, which included Assistant Secretary Robert Destro and Assistant Secretary Denise Natali, to raise US concerns about ongoing violence in Nigeria, human rights, religious freedom, and trafficking in persons, and to hear from senior Nigerian government officials how they are addressing those issues.

“The counselor expressed the US condemnation of the use of excessive force by military forces that fired on unarmed demonstrators in Lagos.  He expressed condolences to the victims of these shootings and urged the government of Nigeria to abide by its commitment to hold those responsible accountable under the law.”

According to the statement, Osinbajo as well as the counselor noted that the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression are essential human rights and core democratic principles. 

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) had, on Wednesday, October 21 said it sent a petition to Bensouda, urging 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 civil society organisation in its petition urged Bensouda 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 United States has enjoined the federal government to hold those responsible for Lekki shooting accountable and also condemned the use of excessive force by the military authorities against unarmed demonstrators.

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