…Pleads with UN to permit Nigeria to refer violent criminals to ICC
By Soni Daniel, Northern Region Editor
The Nigerian Government on Tuesday pleaded with the United Nations to lift its embargo on individuals and other non-state actors violating the rights of Nigerians through wars and violence to be referred to the International Criminal Court, ICC, for prosecution.
Nigeria’s Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, who is representing the country at the 17th Session of the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, made the plea at The Hague, Netherlands.
Malami said: “The fight against impunity and commission of atrocious crimes is still far from being won. The sanctity of human life is still being desecrated, prohibited and weapons are still being deployed to commit mass murder, while perpetrators go unpunished. Meanwhile, victims’ lives are ravaged and their peaceful communal co-existence truncated.
“Nigeria calls on the United Nations and indeed the entire global community to have a sober reflection on the sufferings of victims of wars worldwide and as quickly as possible remove all impediments , including that posed by the Veto power at the UN Security Council, which prevents referrals of non-state parties that have committed serious violations of the Rome Statute from being made and thereby denying international criminal justice.
While admitting the enormous tasks of the ICC, Nigeria pledged its unwavering commitment and cooperation with the ICC to ensure that perpetrators of heinous crimes have no hiding place in the country and are expeditiously brought to justice.
The Minister also made reference to the eight cases, which the ICC is examining against the Nigerian Army and Boko Haram insurgents, and assured that the federal government would fully cooperate with the court to get justice to those involved.
Malami said, “Presently, Nigeria is being examined by the Court regarding eight potential cases (six against the Boko Haram terrorists and two against the military). It is on record that Nigeria has fully cooperated and will continue to cooperate with the court in its efforts to unravel the facts and to get to the bottom of the cases.
“Nigeria has demonstrated beyond any iota of doubts that it is capable, willing and indeed is arresting, investigating, prosecuting and convicting, where the facts of the cases warrant, the perpetrators of heinous crimes in fulfilment of our primary national jurisdiction over Rome Statute crimes.
“Consequently, Nigeria will work to safeguard the integrity of the Rome Statute and its cornerstone principles. Nigeria also commits itself to strengthen and defend the ICC’s judicial and prosecutorial independence, including by ensuring a proactive, fair, informed and transparent search and selection process for the next ICC prosecutor.
“Nigeria is still battling with terrorism. It should be remembered that the fight against terrorism anywhere in the world is unconventional and asymmetrical, unlike conventional warfare in which enemies can easily be distinguished by their uniforms.
“The Nigerian military has paid and is still paying supreme sacrifices in this fight due to its difficult nature. Nevertheless, the Nigerian military has strict rules of engagement and its armed forces area adequately briefed on them.
“The government of Nigeria takes all allegations of human rights and other violations against military personnel seriously and thoroughly investigates them, and when credible, has brought some members of the military to trial.
“We therefore, wish to reassure the court and state parties that we remain fully committed to our obligations under the Rome Statute,” Malami pledged on behalf of the Nigerian Government at the global event.