The International Criminal Court, ICC, has opened a preliminary inquiry into the demonstrations against harassment and brutality by the police in Nigeria, tagged #EndSARS.
This came on day ministers from the South-West in President Muhammadu Buhari’s government called for a thorough investigation into the involvement of the military in the shooting at Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos.
This is even as former President Olusegun Obasanjo yesterday blamed the government’s inability to invest in youth development as a remote cause of the #EndSARS protests across the country. Similarly, activists and lawyers, yesterday flayed government’s clampdown on #EndSARS promoters, describing it as a huge joke.
According to BBC reports, the office of the ICC prosecutor said it had received information on alleged crimes.
The inquiry, ICC said, will “assess whether the legal criteria for opening an investigation under the Rome Statute are met.”
The development is coming after a number of civil society organisations, CSOs, threatened to report some heads of security agencies to the ICC over the conduct of their personnel during the demonstrations, popularly called #EndSARS protests, especially the shootings at protesters at Lekki Tollgate.
However, the Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, dismissed the threats to report him and some heads of security agencies to the ICC and other international authorities.
“They have continually threatened to report the NA to the International Criminal Court, ICC, and also threatened various forms of sanctions against personnel and their families.
“Criminal elements are threatening us with travel ban but we are not worried because we must remain in this country to make it better,” Buratai had said. For two weeks thousands of peaceful protesters had gathered in streets in major cities in Nigeria to protest against harassment, extortion and extra-judicial killings by police.
The peaceful protests in Lagos later became bloody after soldiers fired live ammunition on #EndSARS protesters at Lekki Toll Gate, Lagos, on October 20, according to eyewitnesses. But the Army denied that its personnel shot on the day, even as the protest was later hijacked by hoodlums who looted and damaged public and private properties.
President Muhammadu Buhari had also said 51 civilians, 11 police officers and seven soldiers were killed in the violence that trailed the Lekki shootings.
Amnesty International said it has proofs that the shooting and killing of unarmed protesters were done by state security forces and accused the military of plotting to cover up the killings.
Ministers from S-West ask for thorough investigation Similarly, as the one-week deadline given to ministers to interface with their governors, stakeholders and protesting youths expired yesterday, ministers from the South-West have called for a thorough investigation of the involvement of the military in the shooting at the Lekki Toll Gate.
The ministers, who submitted their report to the Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Council Chamber, Presidential Villa, Abuja, also recommended that the Federal Government supports Lagos State Government in efforts to replace damaged facilities in the state.
They also urged the government to consider short and medium-term support to small and medium businesses affected by the looting and arson that took place in Lagos and other parts of the country through the Central Bank Intervention Mechanism under the COVID-19 funding.
It will be recalled that President Buhari had at the council meeting on October 21, directed his ministers to visit their various states and interface with their governors and stakeholders in the wake of the protest by youths against police brutality, especially, the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, SARS, a unit of the Nigerian Police Force.
The nationwide protests which started peacefully, later became violent as hoodlums hijacked the exercise, looted and destroyed both public and private properties.