â€¢ Ekweremadu receives ICC president, pledges Nâ€™Assembly support
Alex Enumah in Abuja
The federal government thursday reiterated its support for the International Criminal Court (ICC), stressing that Nigeria, in spite of reservation of some African countries, still believes in the relevance of the court.
This came as the Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, pledged the support and goodwill of the National Assembly to the ICC in its efforts to check crimes against humanity and ensure justice for the victims.
The Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami (SAN), who reiterated the position of the country wednesday in Abuja, called for caution, adding that African leaders should â€œnot throw away the baby with the bath water.â€
Malami assured the new president of the ICC, Prof. Chile Eboe-Osuji, who was at the headquarters of the ministry as part of his working visit to Nigeria, that the country, in further demonstration of this support, persuade African states that have withdrawn their membership of the organisation to have a rethink as the ICC is committed to fighting impunity anywhere in the world.
â€œAt this crucial time that the ICC is experiencing spate of withdrawals, the recent one being by the Philippines, the AGF pledges Nigeriaâ€™s unflinching support to Prof Osujiâ€™s presidency,â€ he said.
Malami stated further that â€œNigeria will continue to support and cooperate with the court; Nigeria will do all it can through the platforms of the African Union (AU) and the ECOWAS Commission to persuade African states, including the Philippines, that have withdrawn or threatening withdrawal of their memberships from the court to have a rethink and look beyond the present shortcomings of the court to the fundamental objectives of its establishment to fight impunity in all its ramifications.â€
The minister, though rejecting the escalation of the eight potential cases by the court against Nigeria, however assured ICC that Nigeria would continue to uphold the tenets of the rule of law, maintain zero tolerance to impunity and continually respect fundamental freedoms.
He promised that any Nigerian found to be in breach of international law would be brought to book, adding that erring military personnel have been court-martialed.
The AGF added that his office would continue to work with the National Assembly to ensure speedy passage of the bill for the domestication of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which is presently awaiting action by the National Assembly.
Earlier, the visiting ICC President, Prof. Osuji, told the minister that he was in the country to appreciate Nigeria for the role it played in his emergence as president of the court.
Malami had written to the Minister of Finance to pay the sum of 303,402.00 euro.
Osuji, who also appealed to African leaders to have a change of mind on their membership of the court, said the article 27 of the Rome Statute which borders on removal of immunity of heads of states was not targeted at them as the law he said dated as far back as the first world war in 1919.
He stressed that the goal of the ICC is to build a world where peace and justice reign.
Meanwhile, Ekweremadu while receiving Eboe-Osuji, who paid him a visit in Abuja, described the mandate of the court as â€œvery critical to a peaceful and stable world devoid of oppression and aggression.â€
He said Nigerians and Africans were proud of judge the juristâ€™s recent emergence as the President of the Court.
He said: â€œAs somebody coming from Africa, I think that you are in a better position to understand the issues around the mandate you because a lot of these atrocities have been recorded in Africa in forms of senseless mass killings and related atrocities.
â€œFor us as a civilised people, we believe that human life is very precious. That is why the right to life is the first right in the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria and I think that is the same with modern constitutions the world over.
â€œSo anything that has to do with killings of people and any kind of oppression that gives less meaning to human life must be condemned.
â€œSo, ICC has the full support of the National Assembly of Nigeria in your efforts and that of the global community to end genocides, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and aggression. You have our support in your efforts to help the victims of such atrocities find justice.â€
On his part, Judge Eboe-Osuji said the purpose of his visit was to express his gratitude to Nigeria for supporting the ICC and its mandate, saying that the â€œidea of the rule of law must continue and there must be accountability for violations of international criminal laws.â€
He added: â€œIf you look around the world, the concerns of accountability continue and one would expect that Nigeria would stand up against such continuation of atrocious conducts that should be prosecuted.
â€œCrimes and conducts that shock the conscience of humanity cannot go without questions, without somebody being held accountable to them. That is what the ICC is about,â€ he said.