- UN rights experts say govt has questions to answer
The International Criminal Court says it has commenced a preliminary investigation into the recent #EndSARS protests in Nigeria.
This is coming as UN human rights experts have insisted that Nigerian government must set up a credible, independent inquiry into the reported illegal killing of peaceful protesters by soldiers.
A report by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) on Wednesday quoted the ICC as saying this in a statement, adding its prosecutor had earlier confirmed receiving information on alleged crime.
The examination will “assess whether the legal criteria for opening an investigation under the Rome Statute are met.”
It recalled crowds of peaceful protesters had gathered on streets in major towns of the country demonstrating against police brutality, leading to a crackdown.
Amnesty International said security forces opened fire on protesters, killing and injuring a number of people. Both the police and the army have rejected Amnesty’s allegation.
The ICC said it would make findings of the preliminary examination public.
The development is coming after a number of civil society organisations (CSO) threatened to report some heads of security agencies to the ICC over the conduct of their personnel during the demonstrations, popularly called #EndSARS protests.
However, the Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, has since dismissed the threats to report him and some heads of security agencies to the ICC and other international authorities.
“They have continually threatened to report the NA to the International Criminal Court (ICC) and also threatened various forms of sanctions against personnel and their families,” Buratai had said.
“Criminal elements are threatening us with travel ban but we are not worried because we must remain in this country to make it better.”
Meanwhile, some UN human rights experts have said, “Since 2005, UN Special Rapporteurs have repeatedly raised the issue of police killings and impunity with the Nigerian government,” the experts said.
They also said, “We have had 15 years of government promises, but nothing has changed. Governments come and go, but police brutality is as intractable as ever. Nigerians need justice.”
The experts noted that excessive use of force during peaceful assemblies was unacceptable, adding that the shootings at Lekki toll plaza in Lagos on 20 October were “especially disturbing because demonstrators were precisely calling for accountability for previous police brutality.”
“What is particularly disturbing is that the authorities said they had disbanded the SARS and agreed to the protestors other demands, including investigations,” the experts said. “But they immediately announced the formation of another similar unit and have not ended the excessive use of force.”
They recalled that protesters were met with water cannons, tear gas and live ammunition.
The fact that in the Lekki toll plaza incident CCTV cameras and lights were apparently switched off shortly before soldiers opened fire on the peaceful protestors indicates “a disturbing level of premeditation,” the experts said.
Systematic police brutality and use of excessive force against peaceful protesters must be independently and impartially investigated and the perpetrators brought to the justice, the human rights experts said.
In addition to setting up an independent inquiry, authorities must clarify why the military was deployed and who gave the order, the experts said. “Any investigation must aim to identify lines of responsibility, deliver accountability and justice, provide remedies and reparations, and recommend structural and systemic changes,” they said.
The experts also called on the government to release the reports of previous investigations into human rights violations by the security forces. These include the 2019 report by the National Human Rights Commission report on SARS and the 2018 report by the Presidential Investigation Panel to Review Compliance of the Armed Forces with Human Rights Obligations and Rules of Engagement.
They stated, “The authorities have promised for years to address human rights violations by the security forces,” said the experts.
“Hundreds of victims and relatives of those who died have testified and sent petitions, but they never received any remedy, not even the acknowledgement that their rights were violated. It is crucial that the government releases all these reports to the public before they start new investigations.”
The experts have written directly to the Nigerian government, stressing that “it is high time that concrete action is taken to properly look into all incidents and that structural changes be made to prevent any re-occurrence.”
FG names Nwabuoku to oversee Accountant General Office
The Federal Government has approved the appointment of Mr Anamekwe Chukwunyere Nwabuoku to oversee the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation (OAGF).
This follows the ongoing investigation of the Accountant-General of the Federation (AGF) over N80 billion fraud by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Aliyu Ahmed, Permanent Secretary (Finance), Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, was quoted as saying this in a letter dated May 20, 2022.
The appointment will be pending the outcome of the investigation, according to a statement by Yunusa Tanko Abdullahi, Special Adviser to the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning.
The statement also read in part, “Mr Anamekwe is expected to carry out his duty in strict compliance with extant rules and observe the highest sense of professionalism expected of an officer working at his level.
“Currently, he is director, Inspectorate Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation, and presently he is overseeing the office of the Accountant General of the Federation.”
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President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the appointment of Mr Semiu Adeniran as the Statistician General of the Federation and Chief Executive Officer of the National Bureau of Statistics.
The appointment follows the demise of the former statistician general, Dr Simon Harry, on April 13, 2022, eight months into his five-year tenure.
A statement by Sufuyan Ojeifo, Special Assistant (Media) to the Minister of State, Budget and National Planning, Clem Agba, said, “Adeniran is a professional statistician of repute with bias for Demography and Social Statistics. He has over three decades of statistical hands-on experience garnered from various local and international institutions.”
“Until his appointment, Mr Semiu was the Director of Demographic and Household Statistics at the National Bureau of Statistics.”
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