Abuja – Prof. Chile Eboe-Osuji, President of International Criminal Court (ICC), says the insinuation that the no immunity clause in Rome Statute of ICC is targeted at African leaders, is not correct.
Eboe-Osuji made the assertion on Thursday in Abuja, when he visited Mr Abubakar Malami (SAN), the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice.
The judge noted that the rule against impunity started in 1919, when many African countries had not even gained independence.
“One of the complaints that has been made against the ICC is a complaint rooted in Article 27 of the Rome Statute. It is the provision that says that nobody, no head of state or senior state official, shall enjoy immunity.
“This provision has caused some confusion, some debate and some misinterpretation as to how it came about and what it is about,” he explained
The ICC president maintained that the court was set up to ensure a world where peace and justice reigned as contained in part of the second stanza of the Nigerian anthem.
He expressed appreciation for Nigeria’s support to the court, particularly the role it played in ensuring that he emerged as president of the court.
He, however, appealed for more support and cooperation from Nigeria, noting that the challenges the court was facing were not yet over.
The minister in his response, expressed concerns over the ICC’s recent escalation of eight cases against Nigeria from preliminary examinations to preliminary investigations, describing it as uncalled for.
He, however, stated that the development would not deter the country from supporting the ICC in its efforts to check crimes against humanity and ensure justice for victims.
“Presently, the ICC has escalated eight potential cases against Nigeria from the initial preliminary examination to preliminary investigation. Six of the cases are Boko Haram related and two are against the military.
“This is naturally worrisome to Nigeria as Nigeria has consistently demonstrated beyond doubt, support to the ICC that it is arresting, investigating and prosecuting anyone that commits any crime that falls within the Rome Statute,” Malami said
He added that it was part of the reason why Nigeria ensured that its candidature at the ICC election did not suffer any set-back.
“On the receipt of the news of your candidature at the ICC, out of sheer desire to ensure the support of Nigeria for your presidency, I personally signed a letter to the ministry of finance.
“This was for payment of all the arrears of assets contributions owed ICC by Nigeria, and we paid €1. 3 million to ICC to ensure the participation of the Nigerian candidate to that election.
“At this crucial time that the court is experiencing a spate of withdrawals, the most recent, the Philippines, I want to place on record that Nigeria supports your presidency,” the minister said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) report that judges of the ICC sitting in a plenary session on March 11, elected judge Eboe-Osuji as President of the Court for a three-year term.
NAN also reports that the Rome Statute of the ICC, often referred to as the International Criminal Court Statute, is the treaty that established the ICC.
It was adopted at a diplomatic conference in Rome on July 17, 1998 and it entered into force on July 1, 2002. (NAN)