Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, a civil society organisation, has petitioned the International Criminal Court, ICC, accusing 11 state governments owing workers salaries of committing crimes against humanity.
In the petition dated July 7, 2016 and signed by SERAP Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, the rights advocacy group said it was seriously concerned that non-payment of workers’ salaries by several state governments in Nigeria had made life impossible for the workers and their families.
The 11 governors dragged before the ICC are; Rauf Agbesola of Osun State, Olusegun Mimiko of Ondo State, Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State, Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara State, Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State and Nyesom Wike of Rivers State.
Others are Bayelsa’s Governor Seriake Dickson, Samuel Ortom of Benue State, Mohammed Abubakar of Bauchi State, Yahaya Bello of Kogi State and Simon Lalong of Plateau State.
The organisation urged the ICC to bring to justice anyone who is responsible for the inhumane acts committed against Nigerian workers and prohibited under the Rome Statute of the ICC to which Nigeria is a state party.
In its statement, SERAP said it believes that the non-payment of salaries of workers amounts to a serious attack on human dignity covered in the definition of ‘other inhumane acts’ under the Rome Statute, and fit within the ICC’s mandate.
SERAP is seriously concerned that several state governments in Nigeria are failing and/or refusing to pay workers’ salaries, amounting to billions of naira in arrears.
It also noted that because of the unpaid salaries, Nigerian workers have suffered “severe deprivation, mental and physical health challenges. This means that individual liability may attach to governors who continue to hide under the excuse of ‘limited allocations from Abuja’ to deny these workers the fruit of their labour.”
The organisation therefore contends that the gross violations of human rights and deplorable standard of living of many workers and their families in several states of Nigeria are grave and therefore suggest reasonable grounds justifying a preliminary investigation by the ICC prosecutor.