Karim A. Khan, the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor is seeking authorisation to investigate the abduction of students in Nigeria.
The probe will cover kidnappings in Nigeria’s North, the closure of schools, and the persistent failure of the federal and state authorities to end the abduction.
The development was announced on Sunday by Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP).
In a petition in September, SERAP urged Khan to push for the trial of those suspected to be responsible and complicit in the crimes.
The rights group said 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.
In an October 22 letter with Ref. No. OTP-CR-363/21, Khan told SERAP that the criteria for a probe into a string of abductions have been met.
The letter signed on the prosecutor’s behalf by Mark P. Dillon, Head of Information and Evidence Unit, noted that the preliminary examination of the petition is considered complete.
It said under Article 53 of the Rome Statute, the next step in the judicial process “is to prepare and submit a request to the Pre-Trial Chamber for authorisation to open an investigation on Nigeria.
“Once submitted, the request will be made publicly available on the Court’s website: www.icccpi.int.
“Your communication will be forwarded to the relevant team to be analysed, together with other related communications and other available information, in the context of any future investigations.”
In a statement, SERAP hailed the ICC prosecutor for taking a significant step toward ensuring that persons responsible for the atrocities against schoolchildren are exposed.
The body said impartial justice and reparation will deal a decisive blow to the impunity of perpetrators, and improve access of Nigerian children to education.
“The victims of these crimes deserve justice. SERAP will work closely with the ICC to achieve these important objectives”, deputy director, Kolawole Oluwadare assured.
Last week, 27 students and 3 teachers abducted from the Federal Government College, Birnin Yauri in Kebbi, regained freedom.
The former hostages were in captivity for four months; others are still being held as negotiations for their release continue.
Governor Atiku Bagudu told the victims to consider their kidnap as a trial from God.
“Even Prophets of Allah, who are the best and most faithful people, had been tested and tried.
“One thing is certain: if you are tested and tried and you become patient, the sky is your limit and only Allah knows your reward”, Bagudu said.