THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT (lCC) ACQUITS NIGERIA OF LIABILITY ON ITS FAILURE TO ARREST PRESIDENT AL-BASHIR OF SUDAN IN JULY 2013
The Pre-Trial Chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC), presided over by Justice (Judge) Ekaterina Trendafilova has ruled that Nigeria has justifiable reasons for its failure to arrest President Omar Al-Bashir of Sudan in Nigeria during the latter's visit to the country in July 2013. The judgement of the court entitled "Decision on the Cooperation of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Regarding Omar Al-Bashir's Arrest and Surrender to the Court" was delivered by the Pre-trial Chamber II on 5th September 2013 and forwarded to the Embassy on 6th September, 2013.
On 15th July 2013, the Court, presided over by the same judge issued a court order on Nigeria to immediately arrest President Al-Bashir and surrender him to the Court in line with her obligations under the Rome Statute of the ICC. President Al-Bashir was in Nigeria at the time of this ruling in July which was delivered under the title "Decision Regarding Omar Al- Bashir's Visit to the Federal Republic of Nigeria".
In her defence of the court order of 15th July 2013, Nigeria made a submission to the Court reaffirming her firm commitment to the Rome Statute and her readiness for continued cooperation with ICC towards attainment of the latter's objectives. Nigeria further submitted that she did not invite President Al-Bashir to undertake a visit to Nigeria. Nigeria argued that the Sudanese President appeared in Nigeria ostensibly to attend the special Summit of the African Union (AU) on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria which took place in Abuja from 15 to 16 the July 2013. In its representation, Nigeria further argued that being an
AU Summit, member States do not require the invitation of the host government to attend such Summit in line with the decision and tradition of AU Assembly which member States have an obligation to comply with. Nigeria informed the Court that President Al-Bashir made a brief appearance at the opening of AU Summit, and without delivering a statement, left the country
Most importantly, Nigeria argued in its submission that the sudden departure of President Al-Bashir prior to the official end of the AU Summit occurred at the time that officials of relevant bodies and agencies of the Federal Government of Nigeria were considering necessary steps to be taken in respect of his visit in line with Nigeria's international obligations. This last argument appeared to have convinced the Court that Nigeria actually made efforts to arrest President Al- Bashir and surrender him to the Court which did not materialize due
to his sudden departure.
Having considered Nigeria's representation in a comprehensive manner, the Court invoked its discretionary power by virtue of Article 87(7) of the Rome Statute and concluded that it is not warranted in the present circumstances to refer Nigeria's case to the Assembly of States Parties and/or UN Security Council for action, and by so doing, acquitting Nigeria of charges of non-cooperation with ICC and failure to arrest President Al-Bashir. Nigeria's representation was made by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Bello Adoke.