The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, (SERAP), has petitioned the International Criminal Court, (ICC), of the need to investigate the growing cases of abduction of students in several parts of Northern Nigeria, particularly the recent abduction in Zamfara State.
SERAP also urged it to investigate the closure of schools, and the persistent failure of Nigerian authorities at both the Federal and State levels to end the abduction considered as crimes against humanity within the jurisdiction of the ICC.
In the petition dated September 4, 2021, addressed to the Queen’s Counsel (QC) Prosecutor, Karim A. A. Khan, signed by SERAP’s Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation urged him to push for those suspected to be responsible and complicit in the commission of those 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 closure of schools in Zamfara State after scores of students were abducted by gunmen from a state-run high school in Maradun District.
According to SERAP, “Depriving children 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.
“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”.
SERAP maintained that, “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”.
SERAP, therefore urged Khan, among others, to urgently commence an investigation proprio motu on the widespread and systematic problem of abductions of Nigerian students, the failures to provide a safe learning environment, and the persistent closure of schools, to compel the Nigerian authorities to ensure that Nigerian children are afforded their rights to life, dignity, and quality education in a safe learning environment, and to ensure reparations to victims, including restitution, compensation, rehabilitation and guarantee of non-repetition.