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Declare Students’ Abduction Crime Against Humanity, SERAP Urges ICC

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The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has petitioned the International Criminal Court (ICC) of the need to investigate the growing cases of abduction of students in several parts of Northern Nigeria, particularly the recent abduction in Zamfara State.
SERAP also urged it to investigate the closure of schools, and the persistent failure of Nigerian authorities at both the federal and state levels to end the abduction considered as crimes against humanity within the jurisdiction of the ICC.
In the petition dated September 4, 2021, addressed to QC, Prosecutor, Mr Karim A. A. Khan, and signed by SERAP Deputy Director, Mr Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation urged him to push for those suspected to be responsible and complicit in the commission of those serious crimes to be invited and tried by the ICC.
The petition followed a string of abductions and closure of schools in some parts of Nigeria, including the recent closure of schools in Zamfara State after scores of students were abducted by gunmen from a state-run high school in Maradun District.
According to SERAP, “Depriving children their right to education has severe consequences for their ability to access their fundamental rights. 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.
“Investigating and declaring cases of abduction of Nigerian students and closure of schools, and the failure by the Nigerian authorities to provide safe and enabling learning environments as crimes against humanity would help to combat impunity, deter future human rights abuses, and improve access of the children to education.”
SERAP maintained that, “Persistent and discriminatory denial of education to girls is a crime against humanity. Repeated abductions, the absence of safe and enabling learning environments, and the resulting closure of schools give rise to individual criminal responsibility under the Rome Statute.”
The petition, read in part, “The crime of abduction is not just a deprivation of a single fundamental human right, but a wholesale effort to re-engineer society and to deny children, including girls their human dignity and agency in all aspects of their lives. Lack of education for girls and women has been shown to have negative impacts on their children and family.
“The persistent failure by Nigerian authorities to end the widespread and systemic abductions, and to provide safe and enabling learning environments for Nigerian children to enjoy their right to quality education amounts to crimes against humanity, which fall within the jurisdiction of the ICC.
“While the Nigerian authorities have the primary responsibility to investigate and prosecute the alleged crimes of abduction of students, they have repeatedly failed and/or neglected to do so.
“The absence of any tangible and relevant investigation or prosecution in Nigeria suggests that the authorities are unwilling or unable to carry out genuine investigation or prosecution of those suspected to be responsible for and complicit in the abduction of students.”
“The consequences of persistent abductions of students, closure of schools, and the failure to provide safe and enabling learning environments despite federal and state authorities yearly budgeting some N241.2billion of public funds as ‘security votes’, are similar to those of the offences in article 7(1).
“Senior government officials know well or ought to know that their failure to prevent these crimes will violate the children’s human rights and dignity.
“SERAP is concerned about the growing reports of abduction of Nigerian students and closure of schools in several parts of Nigeria. As Nigeria is a State Party to the Rome Statute, the ICC has jurisdiction over crimes against humanity committed on the territory of Nigeria or by its nationals.
“SERAP therefore urges you to conclude that on the basis of available information, the acts of abduction of students and closure of schools in many parts of Northern Nigeria constitute crimes against humanity within the meaning of the Rome Statute of the ICC.
“The ICC should recognize depriving children including girls of the right to education is an inhumane act under Article 7 that brings comparable suffering and harm to its victims as other crimes against humanity.
“The OTP’s Policy on Children recognizes that children are an ‘identifiable group or collectivity’ and ‘targeting’ (them) on the basis of age or birth may be charged as persecution on ‘other grounds.
“SERAP believes that substantial grounds exist to warrant the intervention of the prosecutor in this case, as provided for under Article 17 of the Rome Statute.
“More than 10,000 schools have been reportedly closed in at least seven northern states over the fear of attack and abduction of pupils and members of staff. The states are Sokoto, Zamfara, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Niger and Yobe.
“Schools in Nigeria’s north-western Zamfara State have been ordered closed after scores of students were abducted by gunmen from a state-run high school in Zamfara’s Maradun district.
“Among the string of abductions in Zamfara was the abduction of over 200 schoolgirls in the town of Jangebe in February. The latest abduction comes after widespread reports of abduction of students and closure of schools in many states of Nigeria, including in North-Central Niger State where some 91 school children were abducted.
“An estimated 1.3million Nigerian children have been affected by frequent raids on schools by suspected terrorists. Some 13million Nigerian children are out of school nationwide. According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), more than 1,000 students have been abducted from schools in northern Nigeria since December, 2020.”
“Families and parents have reportedly resulted to paying the terrorists thousands of dollars as ransom to secure the release of their children. An estimated $18.34million was reportedly paid in ransoms between June, 2011 and the end of March, 2020.
“Nigerian authorities have also failed and/or neglected to satisfactorily address the abduction of 276 schoolgirls from Chibok in 2014, which prompted the #BringBackOurGirls campaign. According to reports, more than 100 of those girls are still missing.
“Also, pursuant to the Rome Statute, the Prosecutor has the 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 Khan, among others, to urgently commence an investigation proprio motu on the widespread and systematic problem of abductions of Nigerian students, the failures to provide a safe learning environment, and the persistent closure of schools, to compel the Nigerian authorities to ensure that Nigerian children are afforded their rights to life, dignity, and quality education in a safe learning environment, and to ensure reparations to victims, including restitution, compensation, rehabilitation and guarantee of non-repetition.

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UBEC, RSUBEB Begin Digital School Construction In Rivers

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As part of government’s efforts to realize its dream of making the nation’s educational system a global digital community, the Federal Government, through the Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC) and the Rivers State Universal Basic Education Board (RSUBEB), have commenced the construction of a modern digital Smart Basic School in the state, with 14-month completion schedule.
The school, which is a pilot modern basic education facility, is designed by UBEC in collaboration with RSUBEB to entrench digitization of ICT-driven basic education system across the 36 states and FCT, Abuja.
Speaking with journalists at a brief handover ceremony of the proposed smart school site to UBEC by RSUBEB at the Community Primary School, Uzuoba in Obio/Akpor Local Government Area of the state, over the weekend, the National Consultant, UBEC Smart School Project, Prof Masud Abdulkarim, said the school was designed to incorporate digital technology into the basic education system in the country, which he said, has been in practice in advanced countries for years.
Abdulkarim stated that the desire of the Federal Government was to ensure that Nigerian children were not left out in the digital space, saying that the school would have great impact on the youth and give them equal opportunity to compete globally in the technology world.
He described the school as the first of its kind in the history of the country, adding that the school would have four categories that would take care of the nursery, handicapped, primary as well as junior secondary students with a maximum of 35 persons per class of two streams.
Abdulkarim noted that with the strategy, no fewer than 700 children would be enrolled into the school.
According to him, the school would afford the children the opportunity to become robotic engineers, artificial intelligence (AI) engineers and ICT engineers, and added that as future leaders, they need to be equipped and encouraged.
The UBEC consultant commended the state government for the provision of the school for the construction of the smart school, and described the site as the most suitable across the 23 states so far visited.
“Let me thank the RSUBEB for the site, in fact, it is the best and most suitable site among the 23 states we have so far visited. Because it has an existing school structure with a fence to protect our equipment and infrastructure. Moreso, the project will impact on the schools around because they will benefit from our Wi-Fi”, he stated.
Abdulkarim called on the host community to jealously guard the project as a growing child, till its maturity to adult stage, saying that they were important stakeholders in the project.
Also speaking on behalf of the Chairman of Rivers State Universal Basic Education Board (RSUBEB), Ven Fyneface Akah, a commissioner in the board, Chief Faith Amaso, called for synergy between the contractors and host community in other to remove every impediment that may affect the delivery of the project on schedule.
Akah opined that the project, when completed, would improve basic education in the state, and expressed happiness over the commencement of the project in the state.

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Rivers United Beat Young Africans Of Tanzania 1-0

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Rivers United Football Club of Port Harcourt, yesterday, at the Adokiye Amasiemaka Football Stadium, trounced the Young Africans Football Club of Tanzania 1-0 in a return leg match of the ongoing Confederation of African Football Club Champions League competition.
The stadium, which was filled to capacity, witnessed a trilling encounter, which saw the crowd craving for more.
It would be recalled that Rivers United had defeated the Young Africans of Tanzania 1-0 in the first leg of the championship at the Benjamin Mkapa Stadium, Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, last Sunday.
Reacting to the feat, the Chairman of Degema Local Government Area, Hon. Michael John Williams, expressed joy over the victory of the Rivers United FC of Port Harcourt against the Young Africans of Tanzania in the ongoing Confederation of African Football (CAF) Champions League.
The match, which ended 1-0 in favour of the Rivers United FC, took place at the Adokiye Amiesimaka International Stadium in Rivers State, yesterday.
Top government officials in the state, including Rivers Deputy Governor, Dr. Ipalibo Harry Banigo; LG council chairmen and commissioners, amongst other sports enthusiasts, graced the event.
Speaking on the outcome of the match, Williams stated that the Rivers United players exhibited the Rivers team spirit, which culminated in their victory.
The political heavyweight in Degema LGA, noted that nothing would be impossible for Rivers people to achieve when they work together in unison and firm determination.
He added that the massive support and huge investment in the sports sector by the Governor Nyesom Wike administration, also motivated the Rivers team, who worked hard to secure a back-to-back victory.

By: Nelson Chukwudi

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NJC Okays Six Chief Judges, 30 Others For Appointment

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The National Judicial Council (NJC), has recommended the appointment of chief judges and 30 others as judicial officers to beef up judicial functions in some states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
At its 95th meeting held on September 15 and 16, 2021, the council considered the list of candidates presented by its Interview Committee, and recommended the 36 successful candidates to their respective state governors for appointment as heads of courts and other judicial officers in Nigeria.
They are Hon. Justice Richard O. Olorunfemi as chief judge, Kogi State, Hon. Justice Joe Itsebaga Acha for Edo, Hon. Justice Akintoroye Williams Akin for Ondo, Hon. Justice Husseini Baba Yusuf for FCT, Hon. Justice Ekaette Francesca Fabian-Obot for Akwa Ibom, and Hon. Justice J. O. Adeyeye for Ekiti State.
Others are Hon. Kadi Baba Gana Mahdi as Grand Kadi, Yobe; Umaru Ahmad Liman as Grand Kadi, Bauchi; Hon. Justice Osagede Osado Emmanuel as President, Customary Court of Appeal, Nasarawa; Hon. Justice Mashud Akintunde Akinfemi Abass as President, Customary Court of Appeal, Oyo State; and Siyaka Momoh Jimoh Usman as President, Customary Court of Appeal, Kogi State.
Three judges are recommended for High Court of Gombe, and they are Zainab Abdulkadir Rasheed, Abdussalam Muhammad, and Daurabo Suleiman Sikka.
Akwa Ibom has Effiong Asukwo Effiong; Bauchi has Nana Fatima Jibril; while Kaduna High Court has Abdulkarim Mahmud.
The three candidates recommended for Katsina State are Kabir Shuaibu, Ibrahim Ishaku Mashi, and Ibrahim Abubakar Mande, while Prof Alero Akeredolu was recommended for Ondo State.
Four successful candidates for Oyo State are Olusola Adebisi Adetujoye, Folabimpe Beatrice Segun Olakojo, Prof Taiwo Elijah Adewale, and Kareem Adeyimika Adedokun.
Kogi State has three candidates, and they are Abubakar Sule Ibrahim, Abdullah Sulyman, as well as Aminu Ali Eri.
Two Kadis for Sharia Court of Appeal are Adamu Kuna Jibril and Ahmed Baba Bala, while the four for Bauchi are Musa Sani Abubakar, Mahdi Manga, Khamis Al-Hamidallah Muhammad and Sani Musa with Ondo State having one in the person of Orimisan James Okorisa and Oyo Customary Court of Appeal having Ajadi Olubukola Omolayo.
A statement by the NJC Director of Information, Mr Soji Oye, and released in Abuja, yesterday, said that all the recommended candidates are expected to be sworn-in after approval by President Muhammadu Buhari, and their respective state governors, and confirmation by the respective state Houses of Assembly.

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