Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Femi Falana, has said that a criminal complaint lodged against him at the International Criminal Court, The Hague, Netherlands, was sponsored by persons behind the killing of peaceful protesters demanding an end to police brutality and bad governance in Nigeria.
Falana’s reaction followed the complaint lodged at the ICC by one Joseph Nwaegbu, a Senior Associate of Pathfind Attorneys on behalf of Make Nigeria Better Initiative.
The group had accused the human rights lawyer of “spreading fake news to further incite the youth in the country against the government, which led to killings and destruction of properties”.
The petition by the group, which was acknowledged by the ICC’s Head of Information and Evidence Unit, Mark P. Dillon, reads partly, “The misguided youth who acted based on Falana’s posture, character and utterances employed crude methods to illegally murder about 22 police officers during the #EndSARS protests that lasted between the periods 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.”
The group went ahead to call on the ICC Prosecutor to compel Falana upon conviction under the Rome Statute to pay the sum of $2bn 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 #EndSARS protests.
But in his reaction on Wednesday night, Falana said that the complaint was baseless and had no element of facts in it.
He said, “One of my clients, the Socio-Economic and Rights Accountability Project, had earlier submitted a petition to the International Criminal Court against the authorities of 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, hence, this obnoxious rejoinder was hurriedly crafted and dispatched to the office of the Chief Prosecutor of the ICC to divert attention from the crime against humanity allegedly committed by those, who opened fire on peaceful protesters in violation of international humanitarian law.
“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 wilful 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.
“I am, however, surprised that the office of the Chief Prosecutor acknowledged the receipt of the groundless petition because it is the practice of the ICC to formally accept all petitions including the most absurd and obnoxious.”