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SERAP Drags Ex-Presidents, Govs To ICC Over 13.2m Out-Of-School Children

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Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sent a petition to the Prosecutor, International Criminal Court (ICC), Mrs. Fatou Bensouda, urging her to use her “good offices to investigate whether the problem of out-of-school children in Nigeria, and the failure of the Nigerian authorities over the years to address it amount to violence against children and crimes against humanity within the jurisdiction of the ICC.”
The organization urged Mrs Bensouda to: “Push for those suspected to be responsible for this problem, including current and former presidents and state governors since 1999, who directly or indirectly have individually and/or collectively breached their special duty toward children, and are therefore complicit in the crime, to be tried by the ICC.”
In the petition dated July 19, 2019, and signed by SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization said: “Investigating and prosecuting high-ranking Nigerian officials and providing reparations to victims will contribute to serving the best interests of Nigerian children, the most vulnerable citizens in our country, and ending the impunity that is denying them their right to education and a life free of violence and fear.”
SERAP said: “These out-of-school Nigerian children have been exposed to real danger, violence and even untimely death. Senior Nigerian politicians since 1999 have failed to understand the seriousness of the crime of leaving millions of children out of school, and have made an essential contribution to the commission of the crime.”
SERAP also said: “The ICC has stated in the Lubanga case that the interruption, delay and denial of the right of children to education is a crime within the jurisdiction of the Court. SERAP believes that the reality for children living in the Ituri region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo is similar to the reality faced by millions of out-of-school children in Nigeria, as the situation is depriving an entire generation of children of their right to education and human dignity.”
The petition read in part: “There is no immunity for crimes under the Rome Statute. The crime of leaving millions of Nigerian children out of school is an opportunity for your Office to show the Court’s commitment to effectively enforce its Policy on Children and other important statements of international criminal justice.
“Putting millions of Nigerian children that should be in school on the street exposes them to violence, including sexual violence, gender violence, abduction, and other forms of exploitation and violence against children, and implicitly amounts to enslavement, trafficking of children, and ill-treatment, three of the eleven acts that may amount to a crime against humanity under the Rome Statute.
“Unless the ICC declares the problem of over 13 million out-of-school Nigerian children as violence against children and crime against humanity, and hold those suspected to be responsible since 1999 to account, the number of out-of-school children will continue to rise, and these children may never receive any formal education at all.
“Nigeria is a state party to the Rome Statute and deposited its instrument of ratification on 27 September 2001.According to Nigeria’s Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), the population of out-of-school children in Nigeria has risen from 10.5million to 13.2million.
“This figure is based on a joint survey conducted in 2015 by the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) and the Nigerian government. Data by the UNICEF also shows that one in every five of the world’s out-of-school children is in Nigeria. However, Nigeria’s former Minister of Education Mr Adamu Adamu has suggested the figure of out-of-school children in Nigeria to be 10,193,918, citing a recent ‘National Personnel Audit’ of both public and private schools in the country.
“According to the former Minister of Education, all of the 36 states in Nigeria are affected by the problem of out-of-school children but the problem is more widespread and systematic in the following states: Kano, Akwa Ibom, Katsina, Kaduna, Taraba, Sokoto, Yobe, Zamfara, Oyo, Benue, Jigawa and Ebonyi states.
“Girls are disproportionately represented among out-of-school children. In north-eastern Nigeria alone, 2.8million children are in need of education-in-emergencies support in three conflict-affected states (Borno, Yobe, Adamawa). In these states, at least, 802 schools remain closed and 497 classrooms are listed as destroyed, with another 1,392 damaged but repairable.”
“Under Nigerian law and international human rights treaties to which Nigeria is a state party, the Nigerian authorities at both the federal and state levels have a legally binding obligation to immediately provide free, universal quality primary education for all Nigerian children, and to progressively provide education at all other levels without discrimination.
“Nigerian authorities over the years have restricted educational opportunities for children with disabilities including by failing to provide equipment such as hearing aids, ramps to school buildings, wheelchairs, crutches, glasses and surgery to children in need, and failing to address educational challenges facing children with disabilities, in general.
“SERAP notes the launch by your Office in 2016 of the Policy on Children, which aims to send ‘a firm and consistent message that humanity stands united in its resolve that crimes against children will not be tolerated and that their perpetrators will not go unpunished.’ The policy aims to assist your office in its efforts to robustly address these crimes, bearing in mind the rights and best interests of children.
“SERAP notes also that at the launch of the policy you stated among others that, ‘a crime against a child is an offence against all of humanity; it is an affront to our basic tenets of human decency. Children are our greatest resource, and must be protected from harm so as to reach their full potential. We, at the ICC, intend to play our part through the legal framework of the Rome Statute’.
“This statement is entirely consistent with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Nigeria is a state party and shows that children will not be invisible in the exercise of the jurisdiction of the ICC, and that your office will extend its work to ensure the well-being of children, including millions of out-of-school Nigerian children.”
“The Rome Statute’s sensitivity towards children’s issues is clearly demonstrated in Article 68(1) to the effect that the court must ‘have regard to all relevant factors, including gender and the nature of the crime, in particular, where the crime involves sexual or gender violence or violence against children.’ Under Article 54(1), ‘the Prosecutor shall take into account the nature of the crime, in particular where it involves violence against children.’
“SERAP is seriously concerned that the problem of out-of-school children is widespread and systematic, cutting across the 36 states of the country and Abuja, and spanning many years since 1999. The problem of out-of-school children has had catastrophic effects on the lives of millions of children, their families and communities, akin to violence against children under the Court’s Policy, and crimes against humanity as contemplated under the Rome Statue.
“The Rome Statute in article 7 defines “crime against humanity” to include “inhumane acts causing great suffering or injury,” committed in a widespread or systematic manner against a civilian population. “The common denominator of crimes against humanity is that they are grave affronts to human security and dignity.
“The consequences of throwing millions of Nigerian children that should be in school out on the street are similar to those of the offences in article 7(1)(k) of the Rome Statute. Senior government officials know well or ought to know that their failure to prevent millions of Nigerian children from roaming the street will expose the children to violence, deny them their human dignity and exacerbate the growing insecurity in the country.
“SERAP considers the apparent failure of successive governments and high-ranking government officials to prevent widespread and systematic problem of out-of-school children as amounting to complicity under the Rome Statute.
“This crime against Nigerian children has continued to rob our children of their innocence, childhood, and often, tragically, resulted in their untimely deaths, denying Nigeria of its future potential and of its greatest resource.
“The national authorities of the Court’s States Parties form the first line of defense in addressing the crimes against children, as they shoulder the primary responsibility for the investigation and prosecution of perpetrators of the crimes. But successive governments in Nigeria have been unwilling or unable to address the problem of out-of-school children, and end the crime against humanity.
“SERAP believes that substantial grounds exist to warrant the intervention of the Prosecutor in this case. Pursuant to the Rome Statute, the Prosecutor has power to intervene in a situation under the jurisdiction of the Court if the Security Council or states parties refer a situation or if information is provided from other sources such as the information SERAP is providing in this case.
“SERAP, therefore, urged the ICC Prosecutor to: Urgently commence an investigation ‘proprio motu’ on the widespread and systematic problem of out-of-school children in Nigeria since the return of democracy in 1999, with a view to determining whether these amount to violence against children and crime against humanity within the court’s jurisdiction.
“In this respect, we also urge you to invite representatives of the Nigerian government to provide written or oral testimony at the seat of the court, so that the prosecutor is able to conclude since available information whether there is a reasonable basis for an investigation, and to submit a request to the Pre-Trial Chamber for authorization of an investigation”.
The ICC was also asked to, “Bring to justice those suspected to be responsible for widespread and systematic problem of out-of-school children in Nigeria; and urge the Nigerian government to fulfil its obligations under the Rome Statute to cooperate with the ICC; including complying with your requests to arrest and surrender suspected perpetrators of the widespread and systematic crime of leaving millions of Nigerian children out of school, testimony, and provide other support to the ICC Compel the Nigerian authorities at the Federal and State levels to ensure that millions of out-of-school children are afforded their right to education, access to justice, and ensure reparations to victims, including restitution, compensation, rehabilitation and guarantee of non-repetition”.

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Late Mechanic: Car Owner Denies Reporting Stolen Car To Police

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The last is yet to be heard concerning the death of an auto-mechanic, Chima Ikwunado, who was allegedly tortured to death while in police custody in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, as owner of one the cars the deceased and four of his colleagues were allegedly arrested for snatching has exonerated the victim.
Owner of one of the car, which the late mechanic and four others were arrested for allegedly snatching, Mr. Chinedu Ezenwarili, has denied reporting a case of stolen vehicle to the Rivers State Police Command.
It would be recalled that Ikwunado and four of apprentices were arrested by men of the Eagle Crack (E-Crack) Unit, attached to the Mile One Police Division, while test-driving two cars they were repairing along Olu-Obasanjo Road in Port Harcourt for alleged robbery and cultism.
After the death of Ikwunado, his four apprentices namely: Victor Ogbanna, Osaze Friday, Ifeanyi OsujI and Ifeanyi Onyekwere, were charged to court, and are currently remanded at the Port Harcourt Correctional Centre.
Briefing newsmen at the Ernest Ikoli Press Centre in Port Harcourt, yesterday, Ezenwarili, said he gave his vehicle, a Toyota Camry saloon car, to the late Chima for repairs before he was arrested and charged for stealing same car.
“On December 19, 2019, I gave my Toyota Camry with registration number JRV 29 SX to one Mr. Chima Ikwunado to fix my camber bushing and radiator coat. Chima was my mechanic, and I have known him for more than two years.
“On December 20, 2019, I called his telephone line as prearranged but all my attempts to reach the said Chima Ikwunado via telephone proved abortive as his telephone kept ringing but he did not pick his calls. I got worried as to what must have happened because he was my trusted mechanic.
“The following day, I called Mr. China’s neighbour who told me that Chima was arrested by the Eagle Crack police team from Mile One Police Station for driving against traffic, and he was being detained there,” Ezenwarili stated.
Ezenwarili, who was accompanied by his legal team, wondered why the police released his vehicle to him and still kept late Ikwunado and others in detention until he died 10 days later.
He said he decided to speak to the press in order to dissociate himself from the murder of an innocent man, saying he never reported any matter to the Eagle Crack police team.
Ezenwarili added, “I want the whole world to hear my story so that nobody will associate me with the blood of an innocent man,” he said, pointing out that the deceased never snatched his car and he (owner of the said car) never lodged any complaint in any police station.
Similarly, a group, the Committee for the Defense of Human Right (CDHR) has called on the Rivers State Commissioner of Police, Mustapha Dandaura to identify operatives responsible for the death of a mechanic, Chima Ikwunado while in police custody, and ensure that they face justice.
The immediate past National Publicity Secretary of CDHR, Henry Ekine while speaking to newsmen in Port Harcourt, said the group would take all legal majors to ensure justice for late Ikwunado.
Ekine stated that the reason given by the Rivers State Police Command on what caused the death of Chima Ikwunado is unjustifiable.
He also said the committee for the defence of human right will, pointing out that the group will investigate the cause of death of the detainee and defend the matter in court.
“The news is really disturbing to the Committee for Defence of Human Right. The Committee for the Defense of Human Rights, from our National Secretariat in Lagos and the Rivers State branch, we are committed to ensuring that the truth of this matter is unravelled.
“The unjustified reaction on the side of the police is unacceptable. We are committed to ensuring that justice is done and that those who are involved in this are brought to book to face the law.
“We are going to push on this to the extreme including taking all legal actions,” he stated.
Ekine also called on the state police boss to prove the integrity of the force by ensuring that any police officer involved in the death of Chima Ikwunado is punished.
“The police should be more professional in their dealings with Nigerians in any issue that comes to the police. The law enjoins that the police should sieve and in fact look through thoroughly in the complaints that come before them.
“The information we have gathered is that the police have gone outside of their powers. We enjoin the commissioner of police in Rivers State to ensure that they do not bring this under any cover.

 

Dennis Naku & Charity Opara

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Stop Killings Of Christians, Northern CAN Tells Buhari

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The recurring attacks, kidnappings and killings of Christians especially in the North-East by the Jihadist groups have been described as a ploy to set the northern region on fire if the Federal Government fails to curb the trend.
The Chairman, Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in the 19 Northern States and the FCT, Rev. Yakubu Pam expressed the opinion on the heels of the killing of CAN Chairman, Michika Local Government Area of Adamawa State, Rev. Lawan Andimi.
Pam, worried by the situation noted that the Federal Government should rise and stem the tide of unwarranted killings of Christians so that wrong signals are not sent to Christian faithful in other geo-political zones of the nation as it seems the entire Christian community in the North is under siege.
According to him, “Interreligious leaders in the North have worked so hard to bring the two main religions, Christianity and Islam adherents to work closely with one another for the peace of the Northern states in recent years.
“The gains made are now being eroded with the recent development of upsurge of Jihadists on the loose in North-East states of Nigeria.
“President Buhari administration should double up its efforts in the management of the current situation in the North to avoid outbreak of religious crisis in the region which would not be of any benefit to anyone.”
The Northern CAN leader added that “the recent video that emerged from ISIS affiliated terror group and the horrific footage released by ISIS News Agency showing a child of about eight years old carrying out the execution of a Christian in an unidentified outdoor area of Borno State is frightening.
“The under-age Jihadist was seen in the video warning Christians to be ready to witness more killings and as such it has sent shock waves into the heart of Christian leaders and faithful in the North that their lives are not safe unless the Federal Government quickly arrests this ugly development before people begin to resort to self help.”
He called on the Christians in the North to be vigilant and watchful as directed by the Lord Jesus Christ over the current happenings around their environment and report same quickly to security agencies located within their homes and environment for prompt security action to save lives of innocent Christians doing their legitimate business in the region.
In the same vein, the Northern Governors Forum has condemned the gruesome murder of Rev Lawan Andimi, who was the local council chapter chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and also a pastor with the Church of the Brethren (EYN) at the District Church Council of Michika, Adamawa State by Boko Haram terrorist group.
In a statement, Chairman of the Northern Governors Forum and Plateau State Governor, Simon Bako Lalong, yesterday, described the act as yet another sad tale of inhuman activities of the terrorist group which is bent on unleashing sorrow in the hearts of Nigerians.
While commiserating with the family of the late clergyman, the church and people of Adamawa State, Lalong urged them not to allow the ugly incident affect their faith in God and love for humanity as the death of the late clergyman cannot be a catalyst for hatred among Nigerians who are disgusted by the cruelty of the terrorist organisation.
He said the Northern Governors Forum remains united in their support for security agencies to continue to rise up to not only terrorist groups, but all forms of criminality that seek to divide the country along ethnic, religious or political lines.
Lalong emphasized that the Northern Governors Forum stands shoulder to shoulder with President Muhammadu Buhari as he rallies the world towards defeating terror groups and their sponsors as well as the purveyors of their bizarre ideology which propagates sorrow, hatred and pain on innocent persons in the name of religion and others claims.
Similarly, the National Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (NSCIA) has expressed shock over the killing of the Christian Association of Nigeria chairman in Michika Local Government Area of Adamawa State, Pastor Lawan Andimi, by Boko Haram.
The council described the murder as barbaric and provocative, adding that it was a ploy by the insurgents to incite Christians against Muslims in the country.
Andimi was abducted by Boko Haram on January 3, and subsequently killed last Monday despite being offered a N50million ransom.
The NSCIA, in a statement in Abuja, yesterday, by its Head of Media and Communication, Aselemi Ibrahim, condoled with CAN and the family of the deceased, and also called on the Federal Government and the security agencies to be alive to their responsibilities of protection of lives and property.
It cautioned CAN leadership to think through its public statements “so as not to play into the antics of the enemy”.
The Muslim body stated, “The council hereby expresses her heartfelt condolences to the immediate family of Pastor Lawan Andimi in particular and the leadership and members of the Christian Association of Nigeria in general.
“We equally want to seize this opportunity to appeal to the leadership of CAN in Nigeria to be wary of the comments and statements it puts out in the public domain, so as not to play into the antics of the enemy.
“We should think through and be sure that our comments are in the interest of national peace, security and cohesion.”
The NSCIA expressed its commitment to a safe and united Nigeria “where everyone is protected and free to practice his/her religion without encumbrances”.

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Only Restructuring’ll Save Nigeria From Annihilation, Stakeholders Insist

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Former Governor of Anambra State, Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife; Prof. David Aworawo of UNILAG; Mr. Soji Awogbade, of the Voice of Reason, a pro-Yoruba organisation; and Afenifere spokesman, Yinka Odumakin; have told Nigerian that restructuring of the country is the only way forward.
Ezeife said Nigeria is not an accident of British colonialism but a creation of God using British colonialism.
He said Nigeria has not attained the position of global leadership because of its current structure.
Odumakin disagreed on the notion that Nigeria is a creation of God.
He said Nigeria was created by the British.
He said the colonialists did not have the concept of nationhood when they amalgamated the protectorates of northern and southern Nigeria in 1914.
These were the positions they adopted, yesterday, at a conference on restructuring organised by the Institute of African and Diaspora Studies (IADS), the University of Lagos (UNILAG).
According to Ezeife, Nigeria has failed to attain the role of a global superpower because of her unitary structure.
He said: “God designed for Nigeria, unmatched greatness, to enable her to achieve His purpose for creating her. That purpose is Nigeria’s manifest destiny.
“To restructure Nigeria, and make her able to achieve her manifest destiny is the task every Nigerian should pray for and help to bring about. This task must be performed, and urgently too.
“Surely, Nigeria was not an accident of British imperialism. No, God created Nigeria using British imperialism’s mere tools. And God created Nigeria to be a rallying point and big brother for Africa and, indeed, for all the blacks on earth.”
He also blamed the National Assembly for contributing to the current problems the country is passing through, adding that the National Assembly must also be restructured for Nigeria to work.
“Recently, the National Assembly dealt with the issue of devolution of power, which is a key element in the restructuring of Nigeria. Devolution of power deals with sharing of power between the centre or Federal Government and the federating units.
“It is what makes a federation a federation. As it were, by their rejection of devolution of powers, the National Assembly is saying no to the appellation Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“The National Assembly is part of the problem and needs to be restructured to work in the overall interest of the country. It is clearly unrealistic to leave the issue of restructuring Nigeria to the National Assembly as it is composed,” he added.
Odumakin, who is the publicity secretary of pan Yoruba group, Afenifere, said the British never envisioned Nigeria to be a nation.
“There is nothing like Nigerian nation. The British did not have nationhood in mind; they merely amalgamated the southern and northern protectorate. The Southern protectorate was making £500,000 surplus and the Northern protectorate was making £500,000 deficit. Lord Lugard needed the money from the south to run Nigeria. That has continued to date.”
He noted that the report of the 2014 National Conference would have addressed all the problems confronting Nigeria today if it was implemented.
“The 2014 National Conference had a unanimous agreement on all subjects before it except derivation. The only way Nigeria can achieve peace is to restructure along federal lines where every region will control its resources. The command and control structure we have now will not allow us to developed.”
He added that every part of the country has enough resources to develop, and urged leaders in the North opposed to restructuring to put their resources into productive use.
“In Economics, the first of the factors of production is land. Niger State has more land than the whole southeast states put together, they should put their land to productive use.
“You also talk of labour, what happened to the population? They should be put to work. The problem we have today is that people are hanging about, playing Baba Ijebu, they don’t want to do anything, but they want quick money,” he added.

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