International Criminal Court President Visits Nigeria, Silent on Rome Statute

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The President of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, Chile Eboe-Osuji, concluded his official visit to Nigeria last week, has called for the federal government’s support to fight against impunity “for the gravest crimes.” He commended Nigeria for remaining consistent in supporting the ICC and contributing to efforts geared at establishing an international community where peace and justice reign.

However, he was silent on the domestication of the Rome Statute. Nigeria signed the Rome Statute on 1 June 2000. The bill for an Act to provide for the Enforcement and Punishment of Crimes Against Humanity, War crimes, Genocides and Related offences was then proposed in 2003, which when passed by the Nigerian Legislature, would give effect to certain provisions of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in Nigeria .The first time the bill was proposed in 2003, it did not move beyond the legislature. The second time, the bill was passed by both Chambers of the Legislature and presented in 2006 to President Olusegun Obasanjo who did not sign it before the expiration of his tenure in 2007 citing certain objectionable clauses. The bill was read again for the third time in the Nigerian Senate on Wednesday, June 20, 2012 and in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, September 18, 2012. In 2016, a private member of the House of Representatives, Hon Nicholas Ossai, sponsored the bill and it has passed the second reading at the House of Representatives.

According to a statement made available to THISDAY by the ICC, Eboe-Osuji, who was in Nigeria from April 10 to 13, met with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Senate President Bukola Saraki, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, Solicitor General of the Federation, Dayo Apata, and other senior government officials.

“The ICC president expressed gratitude for Nigeria’s strong commitment to the court, which was reaffirmed by the senior authorities during the meetings held. President Eboe-Osuji underlined that the active support of States is crucial in re-energising the mission of the ICC, of which Nigeria is a founding and important member. He recalled that victims are at the heart of the Court’s mandate, which aims to provide justice to those who have suffered the worst atrocities, as well as protect populations from future crimes.

“President Eboe-Osuji further emphasised that the Court is keen to work together with states in Africa to bolster the fight against impunity for the gravest international crimes, and he hoped to count on Nigeria’s support in taking that process forward”

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