#ENDSARS: ICC confirms receipt of criminal complaint against Femi Falana

THE International Criminal Court (ICC), says it has received a criminal complaint against Femi Falana, a human rights lawyer, for his alleged role in the #ENDSARS protest.

Falana was sued before the court by Joseph Nwaegbu, a lawyer on behalf of his group Make Nigeria Better Initiative (MNBI).

The complaint dated 4th November 2020 and addressed to the office of Fatou Bensouda, the Prosecutor ICC, Nwaegbu wants Falana to be tried for allegedly instigating the #EndSARS protests, which he claimed, led to the killing of innocent citizens, destruction of property, among others.

While describing the protest as “mother of all protests in Nigeria”, the lawyer noted that the role played by Falana was not only ignoble but criminal. 

He added that the youths whom he referred to as “misguided” acted based on Falana’s posture, character and utterances employed crude methods to illegally murder about 22 (Twenty Two) police officers in cold blood during the #EndSARS protests.

”On the recent #EndSARS protests which turned violent across the country, we beg to submit that the role played by Mr. Falana before, during, and after what observers described as “the mother of all protests in Nigeria” is not only ignoble but criminal,” he said.

“We have seen how the type of incitement spearheaded by Mr. Falana worked in Rwanda and other parts of the world and the resultant effect was genocide. In the case of Nigeria, the misguided youths who acted based on Falana’s posture, character and utterances employed crude methods to illegally murder about 22 (Twenty Two) police officers in cold blood during the #EndSARS protests that lasted between the period 3rd October 2020 till 21st October 2020.

“We strongly believe that Mr. Falana is a highly placed Nigerian citizen, senior lawyer, and politician that without the timely intervention of the ICC he will get away with justice in this case.

“At Oyigbo Police Station in Lagos alone, a total of 3 (Three) police officers were killed and roasted like Christmas goats with their facilities destroyed,” he said.

“It is our further submission that what Falana is doing gives room for suspicion that another brand of the terrorist group may be created to hide under the cover of “human rights activists” whilst sustaining the evils already bedeviling our people through the activities of the disbanded Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), Boko Haram and Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).

”Overall, we submit that prima facie cases of instigating violent protests that led to the killing of innocent citizens, wanton destruction of properties and other heinous crimes against humanity have been established against Femi Falana SAN vide this Criminal Complaint for which the ICC can investigate, prosecute and mete out appropriate sanctions to him.”

He urged the ICC Prosecutor to open an investigation of Femi Falana, SAN, on her own accord under Article 15 (1) of the Rome Statute;

Nwaegbu urged the ICC Prosecutor to compel Femi Falana SAN upon conviction under the Rome Statute to pay the sum of $2,000,000,000 (Two Billion US Dollars) as punitive damages for causing death, injury and maiming of several citizens as well as wanton destruction of public and private properties through his instigation of the violent #EndSARS Protests across Nigeria from the period 3rd October, 2020 till 21st October 2020.

ICC’s Response

In response, Mark P. Dillon, the ICC Head of Information and Evidence Unit, who said the ICC has acknowledged the receipt of the complaint, said the communication has entered the Registry of the Court and will be considered accordingly with the procedure and Rome Statute of the ICC.

He however added that the “acknowledgment letter does not mean an investigation has been opened, nor that an investigation will be opened by the Office of the Prosecutor.

“As soon as a decision is reached, we will inform you, in writing and provide you with reasons for this decision.”

Falana reacts

Falana has however described the allegations against him as an “obnoxious rejoinder” hurriedly crafted “to divert attention from the crime against humanity committed by those who opened fire on peaceful protesters in violation of international humanitarian law.”

    He said the Socio-Economic and Rights Accountability Project (SERAP), one of his clients, had earlier submitted a petition to the ICC against the Nigerian Army “for the brutal killing of peaceful protesters in Nigeria.”

    “Before then, a London based human rights group had submitted a petition over the massacre of 347 Shiites in December 2015 by the Nigerian army. The suspects in both petitions believe that I instigated both petitions.

    “But the cheap ploy will not work as the ICC does not entertain frivolous petitions that are anchored on conjecture or speculation.

    “After all, the ICC is not unaware of the fact that the suspects who committed arson and willful damage to private and public properties in Lagos state and other places during the #EndSARS protests have been arrested, investigated and arraigned in criminal courts.”

    You can reach out to me on Twitter via: vincent_ufuoma

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