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Just In: ICC begins investigation into Lekki Shootings, #EndSARS protests

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The International Criminal Court, ICC, has reportedly launched an investigation into the shootings of unarmed, peaceful protesters at the Lekki toll gate and reports of police brutality during the recent EndSARS protests. 

Thousands of Nigerians, in two weeks marched in Lagos and other cities to demand an end to the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, or SARS, a police unit accused of extrajudicial killings and abuses.

The ICC announcement was made Wednesday through the BBC Africa according to Journalist, Chi Chi Izundu, monitored by NewsWireNGR.

She said, “the International Criminal Court has confirmed to @BBCAfrica that is has started a preliminary examination into the #ENDSARS events in Nigeria. The Office of the ICC Prosecutor said it had received information on alleged crimes and the examination would “assess whether the legal criteria for opening an investigation under the Rome Statute… are met”. Officials added that the office did not usually comment on the communications it receives but the sender had made it public.”

Through her verified account, she added that the Office of the @IntlCrimCourt Prosecutor confirmed it is now analysing the material sent and when a final decision on this process is reached, it will be made public.

NewsWireNGR earlier reported on October 22 that the ICC through its Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda had earlier acknowledged that they received allegations of crimes by the Nigerian government. 

The Prosecutor in a statement posted on the ICC’s verified Twitter page said her “office has been closely following the events around the current protests in Nigeria and the reaction of Nigeria’s law enforcement and security agencies,”

Any loss of life and 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 that Rome Statute may have been committed. 

This inquiry is to take active steps to understand what happened at the Lekki shootings. The ICC said the inquiry will begin with  “whether the criteria for opening an investigation under the Rome Statute are met” 

This news comes after the Human Right commission of Nigeria also set up a committee to look into cases of Human rights violation in the country. 

The ICC is an intergovernental organisation and international tribunal which has jurisdiction to prosecute individuals for the crimes of genocide’ crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression. 

Recall that on October 20, peaceful protesters were shot at by Nigerian soldiers at Lekki toll gate. The Nigerian Army initially denied that their men were not at the scene of the shootings, but they later admitted that it was the Lagos state government who requested them to be there. 

In response to the shootings, the government set up a judicial panel to look into what happened that night and also review all cases of SARS-related abuses. 

During the protests, some civil organisations threatened to report the key players of the Lekki shootings for Visa ban. However, the Chief of Army staff, General Buratai has said he is not worried by the threat and he did not leave the country until he was 50 years old. 

The International Criminal Court is a permanent court which prosecutes individuals on genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. Its four main objectives are, to ensure the worst perpetrators are held accountable for there crimes, to serve as a court of last resort that can investigate, prosecute and punish the perpetrators of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, assist national judiciaries in the investigation and prosecution of perpetrators with the aim to allow States to be the first to investigate and prosecute and Help promote peace and security be deterring potential perpetrators.

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