The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has petitioned the International Criminal Court (ICC) to “promptly seek authorisation from the ICC Chamber to commence an investigation into the situation in Nigeria in relation to the growing cases of pre-election violence, which if not addressed may escalate and lead to post-election violence in the country.”
This petition was signed by the SERAP Deputy Director Kolawole Oluwadare, following reports of election-related violence in several states including Lagos, Rivers, and Kaduna states.
The petition dated 11 February, 2023 was sent to Mr Karim Khan, QC, Prosecutor, ICC.
Over 4,000 cases of violent attacks and 11,000 fatalities were reported across the country between 1 January 2022 and 3 February 2023 alone.
The petition, read in part: “SERAP urges you to seek authorisation from the ICC Chamber to commence an investigation into the situation in Nigeria in relation to election-related violence that may be committed during and after the elections scheduled for February and March 2023.
“SERAP also urges you to identify the suspected perpetrators of election-related violence and those individuals who bear the greatest responsibility for encouraging or facilitating these crimes, and to ensure their effective prosecution by the ICC.”
“These are not isolated acts, but part of growing cases of election violence, thus constituting crimes against humanity.”
“Seeking authorisation from the ICC Chamber to commence an investigation in relation to election-related violence that may be committed after the general elections is consistent with Article 53(1)(a) of the Rome Statute which allows investigation into ‘a crime which has been or is being committed.’
“SERAP notes that the Prosecutor has consistently relied on the provisions of Article 15 of the Rome Statute and Regulation 49 of the ICC to investigate cases of election-related violence in other countries, including Cote d’Ivoire and Kenya.
“The requested investigation is neither frivolous nor politically motivated. Cases of election-related violence are rarely investigated by the Nigerian authorities. Nigerian authorities are unwilling or unable genuinely to carry out the investigation or prosecution.
“As a result, suspected perpetrators and those who encourage or facilitate their crimes continue to enjoy impunity. Victims continue to be denied access to justice and effective remedies.
“The escalating cases of election-related violence in Nigeria meet the requirements of the Rome Statute and provide reasonable basis for you to promptly commence an investigation, particularly given the gravity of these cases and the interests of victims.
“It is necessary to ensure that any request for authorisation covers investigation into ongoing and continuing election-related crimes during and after the elections, especially given the volatile political environment in the country and the entrenched impunity for these crimes.”
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