26th February, 2021
Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sent an open letter to the UN Security Council and its members urging them to “urgently hold a special session on Nigeria and to visit the country to press the authorities to end continuing abductions of students and the increasing level of insecurity across the country.”
The organization is also urging “the Council and members to treat the failure of Nigerian authorities to prevent and prosecute attacks on students, and to end the growing insecurity in the country as a fundamental breach of the UN Charter and Nigeria’s international human rights obligations.”
In the letter dated 26 February 2021 and signed by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization said: “Attacks on schools and abductions of students are a violation of children’s rights. Nigeria has legal obligations to ensure the immediate release of the abducted students, teachers and family members, provide the necessary counselling following the traumatic experience, and bring the perpetrators to justice.”
According to SERAP, “These abductions and attacks also undermine the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. If not urgently prevented and combated, such attacks may rise to the level of threat to international peace and security. The first ‘purpose’ listed for the United Nations is to maintain international peace and security, and to that end: to take effective collective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to the peace.”
The letter, read in part: “SERAP is concerned that the government of President Muhammadu Buhari is failing to uphold its responsibility to protect Nigerian students from increasing abductions, and attacks on other people by armed men, and if not urgently addressed these abductions and attacks may constitute threat to regional peace and security, and by extension, international peace and security.
“Ensuring the release of the students and holding perpetrators accountable will contribute to ending impunity. A UN Security Council resolution would help to put pressure on the Nigerian authorities to take urgent and concrete measures to end the abductions of students, secure their safety and promote the security and safety of all Nigerians.
“The Security Council must act now to protect Nigerian students and other citizens, if the Council is not to be accused of failing the people of Nigeria.
“SERAP urges the Security Council and its members to publicly condemn these terrorist attacks, express concern about the protection of Nigerian students and other people and communities affected by the violations of international law and press the authorities to put in place mechanisms for bringing those suspected to be responsible to justice, and victims to be receive redress, including adequate compensation and guarantee of non-repetition.
“According to our information, some armed men today abducted over 300 schoolgirls at Government Girls Secondary School, Jangebe in the Talata-Mafara Local Government Area of Zamfara State. The armed men arrived in the school around 1am with Hilux vehicles and motorcycles and abducted the students.
“This abduction occurred some eight days after armed men abducted dozens of students and workers of Government Science College in Kagara, Niger State. Last year, armed men abducted over 300 schoolboys from Government Science Secondary School in Kankara, Katsina State. Aside from Kankara and Kagara, hundreds of secondary school girls have also been abducted from Chibok, in Borno State; and Dapchi in Yobe State.
“There are continuing reports of attacks against innocent citizens, including unlawful killings, destruction and pillage of property by terrorists across the country. The attacks have been fuelled by impunity that has plagued the authorities’ response to the problem.”
SERAP therefore urged the Security Council and its members to adopt a resolution to urge Nigerian authorities to urgently take steps to ensure the safe release of the students and workers, and to hold to account those responsible for the attacks on Nigerian students.
It said the council should characterise the abductions of students and attacks on other people as terrorist acts and mobilize international support for Nigeria to combat these attacks, including for the authorities to adopt and implement measures to tackle the causes and consequences of these attacks and end the abductions and attacks in the country.
SERAP called on the UN Secretary-General to carry out a joint visit to Nigeria with the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, the Chairperson of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and the African Union Peace and Security Council to investigate allegations of abductions of students and attacks on other people and to better understand their root causes and put pressure on the Nigerian authorities to end them.
The body added that the UN should express concern that unabated abductions of students and attacks on other people by terrorists may ultimately contribute to undermining the ability of the Nigerian authorities to provide security, governance, social and economic development in the country;