By Vivian Okejeme Abuja
The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Justice AbubukarMalami, SAN, has expressed Nigeria’s unflinching support to the International Criminal Court (ICC) despite the court’s escalation of eight potential cases against Nigeria.
According to Malami, the ICC escalated the eight potential cases against Nigeria from the initial preliminary examination to preliminary investigation out of which six are Boko Haram related and two of the cases against the military.
He also revealed that to ensure the candidature of Justice Chile Eboe-Osuji as a President of the ICC, Nigeria cleared backlog arrears of £1.3million owned the court.
The AGF made this known when the court president, Justice ChileEboe- Osuji paid a courtesy visit to the Ministry of Justice in Abuja.
Expressing dissatisfaction on the escalation despite the nation’s support to the ICC, Malami said that Nigerians view the escalation of the eight potential cases as uncalled for.
“As a country that believes in the operation or the rule of law, fundamental freedom and the need to fight impunity in all ramification, the escalation of the eight potential cases will not deter us from futher expressing and demonstrating our unflinching support to ICC.
“Nigeria has expressed unflinching support and cooperation with the ICC in terms of the various meeting that has taken place here in Nigeria and compendium of documents including the charge sheet, proceeding and record of investigative panels etc that have been submitted to ICC to convince it of Nigeria’s willingness and ability to arrest, investigate and prosecuted persons that have committed crime against statute of the ICC.
“It must be stated that ICC affairmed the level of cooperation Nigeria extended to it in the 2016 report, particularly paragraphs 291 to 301 to the extent that the paragraphs are the activities carried out by ICC in its cause of investigation in Nigeria.
Relating the nation’s efforts in its sheer desire to demonstrate support on the candidature of Justice Osuji as a President of ICC, Malami said he personally signed a letter he sent to Ministry of Finance to enable it clear backlog arrears owned by the country.
“I personally signed a letter to Ministry of Finance and offset all arrears of assets contributions owned ICC by Nigeria to the tune of £1.3m to ensure the participation of the Nigeria candidature in the election.
Further in his speech, the AGF drummed its support to the president as a great invaluable asset and a source of pride to the Nigeria.
“ At this crucial time, the ICC is experiencing a stage withdrawal, the most recent one is the withdrawal by the Philippines. Nigeria will do all it can through a platforms of Africa Union and ECOWAS commission to pursued African states including the Philippines and other countries threatening to withdraw their membership from the court to have their rethink and look beyond the present short comings of the court.
“I pledge Nigeria unflinching support of your presidency.
On his part, Justice Chile Eboe-Osuji expressed his pleasure on the role Nigeria played in the ICC 2016 election that brought him as a President of the court.
Osuji said that Nigeria was solidly behind the court even when the weather was so heavy.
He said that the AGF unequivocal support during this period shows the nation’s stand in the part of the National Anthem which says to build a nation where peace and justice shall reign.
The ICC president dismissed the arguments from different quarters which state that the provisions of Article 27 were purposely targeted African leaders.
According to the article, nobody, no head of state shall enjoy immunity.
“This has caused some confusion, debate and miss-interpretations to how and what it’s all about. The rule against impunity is the rule that started in its formation in 1919.
“ The argument is that there is no international law that allows prosecution of head of states and also there is no international law that prohibited it.
“ This was how the match on impunity law began in 1945 after the second world war,” he concluded.