An anti-corruption advocacy group, Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, has petitioned the International Criminal Court over the rising number of out-of-school children in Nigeria. The group asked the ICC Prosecutor, Mrs Fatou Bensouda, to investigate whether the failure of the Nigerian leaders to address the problem of the 13.2 million out-of-school children in Nigeria was not tantamount to violence against children and crime against humanity.
In a statement on Sunday by its Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, SERAP said it urged Bensouda to push for the trial of all indictable Nigerian leaders, present and past, at the ICC, in The Hague, Netherlands. It 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.
“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 recalled that the ICC had stated in the Lubanga case that the interruption, delay and denial of the right of children to education was a crime within its jurisdiction. The group said it believed that the experience of the Nigerian out-of-school children was not different from that of children in the Ituri region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, who were deprived of their right to education and human dignity.
“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,” SERAP said. Punch