Barristers & Solicitors
ICC prosecutor seeks probe of adoption of Nigerian school children
International Criminal Court

The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) is set to seek authorisation from the Pre-Trial Chamber of the court to open an investigation into cases of abduction of schoolchildren in several parts of northern Nigeria.

The investigation will also cover the closure of schools and the persistent failure of Nigerian authorities at both the federal and state levels to end the abductions.

 The ICC prosecutor’s decision followed a petition sent to the court by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP).

 This development was announced yesterday in a statement by SERAP’s Deputy Director Kolawole Oluwadare.

 The organisation had, in the petition, dated September 4, 2021, urged the ICC prosecutor, Mr. Karim A. A. Khan, QC, to “push for those suspected to be responsible and complicit in the commission of these serious crimes, to be invited and tried by the ICC”.

In the petition, SERAP said: “The severe and lifelong harms that result from depriving children the right to education satisfy the gravity of harm threshold under the Rome Statute.”

 Responding, the ICC prosecutor, in a letter, dated: October 22, 2021, confirmed to SERAP that “the criteria for opening an investigation into a string of abductions and closure of schools in some parts of Nigeria have been met”.

 The letter signed on the prosecutor’s behalf by Mark P. Dillon, Head of the Information and Evidence Unit, reads: “On behalf of the Prosecutor, I thank you for your communication received on September 13, 2021, as well as any subsequent related information.

  “The preliminary examination of the petition is considered complete. Under Article 53 of the Rome Statute, the next step in the judicial process is for the Prosecutor’s Office 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:

  “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. We thank you for your interest in the ICC.”

 Oluwadare said yesterday: “By this decision, the ICC prosecutor has taken a significant step towards ensuring that those suspected to be responsible for grave crimes against Nigerian schoolchildren are exposed, and held to account. 

“The victims of these crimes deserve justice. Impartial justice and reparation will deal a decisive blow to impunity of perpetrators, and improve access of Nigerian children to education. SERAP will work closely with the ICC to achieve these important objectives.”