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ICC absolves Nigeria of liability over failure of Al-Bashir’s arrest

By The Citizen

The Pre-Trail Chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC), has absolved Nigeria for its failure to arrest President Omar Al-Bashir of Sudan in Nigeria during his last visit to the country in July.

The judgment of the court presided over by Justice (Judge) Ekaterina Trendafilova, entitled “Decision on the Cooperation of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Regarding Omar Al-Bashir’s Arrest and Surrender to the Court”, was delivered on September 5th and forwarded to the embassy on September 6th.

In a statement made available to State House correspondents by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it said that on July 15th, the court also presided over by Trendafilova had 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 the ruling. The judgement was delivered under the title “Decision Regarding Omar Al-Bashir’s visit to the Federal Republic of Nigeria”.

The statement further said that Nigeria in defence of theĀ  court order had made 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.

The statement read: “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 16th of July.

“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 members states have an obligation to comply with.

“Nigeria informed the Court that President Al-Bashir made a brief appear at the opening of AU Summit, and without delivering a statement, left the country.

“Most importantly, Nigeria argue in its submission that the sudden departure of President Al-Bashir prior to the official end of the AU 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 Al-Bashir. Nigeria’s representation was made by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Mohammed Bello Adoke”.