Joseph Nwaegbu, a Nigerian lawyer, has filed a criminal complaint against Femi Falana, human rights lawyer, at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in Hague for his alleged role in the #EndSARS protest.
Violence trailed the #EndSARS protest across the country, leading to loss of lives and destruction of property. In the petition dated November 4, 2020, and addressed to Fatou Bensouda, ICC prosecutor, Nwaegbu who claimed to be acting for his group, Make Nigeria Better Initiative (MNBI), described #EndSARS as “the mother of all protests in Nigeria.”
“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,” Nwaegbu stated.
“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.
“The misguided youths who acted based on Falana’s posture, character and utterances employed crude methods to illegally murder about 22 police officers in cold blood during the #EndSARS protests that lasted between the period 3rd October 2020 till 21st October 2020.
“At Oyingbo police station in Lagos alone, a total of 3 (Three) police officers were killed and roasted like Christmas goats with their facilities destroyed.
”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).”
Nwaegbu urged the ICC to investigate Falana.
He added that upon conviction under the Rome Statute, the ICC prosecutor should compel the senior advocate of Nigeria to pay $2 billion as punitive damages for causing death, injury destruction of properties and all other things caused during the protest.
Mark P. Dillon, head of information and evidence unit, ICC, acknowledged receipt of the complaints.
Dillon said the complaint will be considered accordingly with the procedure and Rome Statute of the ICC.
Responding, Falana 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.”