The International Criminal Court has opened an inquiry into the anti-police brutality protests in Nigeria, termed #EndSARS, in which dozens of unarmed demostrators were allegedly killed by soldiers.
Thousands of youths had gathered in the West African country’s major cities protesting against a rogue police unit, the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), which has now been disbanded.
On Tuesday, 20 October 2020, Nigerian Armed Forces shot at unarmed protesters at the Lekki toll gate in Lagos, Nigeria, killing dozens.
Now the ICC has confirmed that it’s conducting a preliminary examination into the recent #EndSARS protests in Nigeria.
In a statement, the office of the ICC prosecutor said it had received information on alleged crimes.
The examination will “assess whether the legal criteria for opening an investigation under the Rome Statute are met”.
For weeks crowds of peaceful protesters gathered in streets in major towns of the country to demonstrate against police brutality, leading to a crackdown.
Some 51 civilians, 11 police officers and seven soldiers were killed, according to Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari.
Rights group Amnesty International said security forces opened fire on protesters, killing and injuring a number of people. Both the police and the army have rejected Amnesty’s allegation.
The ICC said it would make findings of the preliminary examination public.
Last month, the ICC’s chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda had said her office is paying a close eye on developments in Nigeria.
“My office has been closely following the events around the current protests in Nigeria and the reaction of Nigeria’s law enforcement and security agencies,” Bensouda said in a tweet.
“Any loss of life or 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 on that Rome Statute crimes may have been committed,” she added.
Witnesses said soldiers fired live ammunitions on #EndSARS protesters at Lekki Toll Gate, Lagos, on Tuesday. The army denied its personnel were involved.
Although Lagos State governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu said there were no fatalities from the attack on the unarmed protesters, witnesses and Amnesty International said “several” people died.
The shooting has attracted global outrage against the Nigerian authorities.
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