By Luminous Jannamike
ABUJA – Some civil society organizations, CSOs, have described the International Criminal Court (ICC)’s preliminary inquiry into the demonstrations against police brutality and extra-judicial killings as a welcome development.
In separate interviews with Vanguard on Wednesday in Abuja, they said the move was a pointer to the fact that there was hope for the common man in the country.
The BBC had quoted the ICC as saying it received information on alleged crimes during the #EndSARS protests, and would begin inquiry whether the legal criteria for opening an investigation under the Rome Statute were met or not.
Reacting to the report, the CSOs commended the ICC for standing on the part of human rights and justice.
The Convener, Centre for Liberty, Raphael Adebayo, said: “How can security forces kill unarmed civilians and trample on their rights with impunity, and you expect the ICC to close its eyes to this crime? “We consider ICC’s inquiry as a step in the right direction which will eventually culminate in holding those responsible for the killing of innocent protesters to account.”
In the same vein, the Country Director, Global Peace Foundation, Joseph Hayab, said the ICC’s preliminary inquiry would complement the efforts by local civil groups to ensure justice for those who were killed and injured during the protests.
Hayab also said that ICC’s interest in the matter was indicative of the level of concern human rights abuses in Nigeria had generated in the international community.
He further stated that lack of diligent prosecution of human right abusers was the reason for the persistence of violent crimes against humanity in the country.
He said, “There is nothing wrong with the ICC stepping into the matter at this point. Human right is a global principle and must be protected anywhere in the world by all and sundry.
“We believe the inquiry will complement the efforts of our local CSOs who many have described as ‘toothless bulldogs’ because they cannot sanction those who commit crimes against humanity in our society.
“Even when they try to go to court, their efforts are frustrated by the authorities. So, we are glad the ICC has shown interest in this matter. We hope at the end of the day, those who are found guilty would be made to pay for their sins as a deterrent to others.”
Also speaking on the development, the Legal Counsel to #RevolutionNow Movement, Inibehe Effiong Esq., expressed the optimism that the preliminary inquiry by the ICC would provide new opportunities for indicting those who ordered the shooting of unarmed #EndSARS protesters at Lekki tollgate and other parts of the country.
Effiong said, “The move by the ICC has opened a vista of opportunities to bring those who killed unarmed protesters in Lagos and other parts of the country to account.
“However, it’s shameful that the ICC will first have to intervene before the ordinary Nigerian find hope of justice for crimes committed against his humanity.
“Take for instance, since the Lekki shootings, it’s been from one show of shame to another. What the Attorney-General of the Federal said about the incident is different from what the army hierarchy has said, which is also different from the explanation by the Lagos State Government.”So, the move reassures us that the international community is watching the developments in the country.
“The hope we have is that ICC’s inquiry would materialize into indictments and adequate sanctions for perpetrators of violence crimes against #EndSARS protesters.”