The International Criminal Court (ICC) is conducting a probe into the recent #EndSARS protests in Nigeria, which resulted in at least 51 deaths and a slew of violence.
The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) first reported on the investigation. The probe will “assess whether the legal criteria for opening an investigation under the Rome Statute are met.”
The news comes after Fatou Bensouda, Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC), acknowledged the reports of crimes committed during the #EndSars protests.
“My office has been closely following the events around the current protests in Nigeria and the reaction of Nigeria’s law enforcement and security agencies,” she tweeted last month.
On October 20, the #EndSARS protests descended into chaos as civilians took to social media to share harrowing images of comrades who had been shot dead or wounded by soldiers during demonstrations in Nigeria’s capital, Lagos.
Demonstrators shared footage of men in military uniform, alleged to have been the Nigerian military, advancing towards a crowd of peaceful protestors.
In the following days, human rights group Amnesty International launched their own investigation. Their findings showed that at least 12 people were killed by the Nigerian army and police in two locations, Lekki and Alausa.
“CCTV cameras at the Lekki toll gate, where #EndSARS protesters had been camped for two weeks, were removed by government officials and the electricity was cut — a clear attempt to hide evidence,” the organization said in a statement.
Military spokesman, Maj. Osoba Olaniyi said that soldiers had been deployed to enforce a curfew but denied that the troops fired at the protesters. Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, eventually confirmed that as many as 51 civilians died during the protests. He also claimed 11 police officers and seven soldiers also lost their lives.
In a televised address to the country, Buhari warned protesters against “undermining national security and law and order,” adding that the government “will not fold its arms and allow miscreants and criminals continue to perpetrate acts of hooliganism.”