A human rights advocacy group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, says it has petitioned the International Criminal Court to investigate the growing cases of violence in Nigeria ahead of the forthcoming general election.In a statement on Sunday by its Deputy Director, Kolawole Oludare, the group said the country had witnessed no fewer than 4,000 cases of violent attacks and 11,000 fatalities between January 1, 2022 and February 3, 2023.SERAP if not addressed, the pre-election violence might escalate and lead to post-election violence in the country.
The petition dated February 11, 2023, was addressed to the ICC Prosecutor, Mr Karim Khan.SERAP urged Khan to “urgently send the ICC legal team to Nigeria to promote free and fair elections in the country, and gather potential proof of election-related violence before, during and after the general elections.”According to the organisation, the petition followed reports of election-related violence in several states, including Lagos, Rivers and Kaduna states.It said, “These cases reflect the gravest election-related crimes in several states ahead of the general elections.
“Based on these cases and other similar cases and trends of election violence, we believe that opening an investigation into the situation in Nigeria will be in the interests of justice.“SERAP urges you to seek authorisation from the ICC Chamber to commence an investigation into the situation in Nigeria in relation to election-related violence that may be committed during and after the elections scheduled for February and March 2023.
“SERAP also urges you to identify the suspected perpetrators of election-related violence and those individuals who bear the greatest responsibility for encouraging or facilitating these crimes, and to ensure their effective prosecution by the ICC.“These are not isolated acts, but part of growing cases of election violence, thus constituting crimes against humanity.
“Seeking authorisation from the ICC Chamber to commence an investigation in relation to election-related violence that may be committed after the general elections is consistent with Article 53(1)(a) of the Rome Statute, which allows investigation into ‘a crime which has been or is being committed.”.