Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Fatou Bensouda
- To investigate first lady over APC petition
Tobi Soniyi in Abuja â€¨
Ahead of the general election, the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Fatou Bensouda, has for the second time reminded Nigerian politicians that they risk being hauled to The Hague, Netherlands, for trial if they continue with the level of violence already witnessed in the country.
In a statement released on Monday, the prosecutor reiterated her earlier call on Nigerian politicians and leaders to refrain from inciting their followers into violence because of the elections.
The statement read: “Following my statement of February 2, 2015, and my office’s subsequent visit to Nigeria from February 3 to 5, I reiterate my previous message.
“At a time when abhorrent levels of violence already plague parts of the country, I recall that the International Criminal Court has jurisdiction over Rome Statute crimes committed on the territory of Nigeria.
“Any person who incites or engages in acts of violence in the context of the upcoming elections or otherwise – including by ordering, inciting, encouraging or contributing to the commission of crimes that fall within ICC’s jurisdiction – is liable to prosecution; either by Nigerian courts or by the ICC.
“No one should doubt my office’s resolve to prosecute individuals responsible for the commission of ICC crimes, whenever necessary.
“Violence is not a solution. The conduct and outcome of elections in Nigeria, free from violence, will not only prevent further instability in the country, but will also send a clear message that electoral competition does not have to result in violence and crimes that shock the conscience of humanity.”
The Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC conducts independent and impartial investigations and prosecution of crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.
It has opened investigations in Uganda; Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Darfur, Sudan, Central African Republic, Kenya, Libya, Côte d’Ivoire and Mali.
The office is also conducting preliminary examinations relating to the situations in Afghanistan, Colombia, Georgia, Guinea, Honduras, Iraq, Nigeria, Ukraine and Palestine.
In addition, the ICC on Monday confirmed receiving correspondence from the All Progressives Congress (APC) against the First Lady, Patience Jonathan.
According to an online news medium, The Cable, the Office of the Prosecutor confirmed that it had received a petition against the first lady from the APC.
The Cable had written to the Office of the Prosecutor (OTP) seeking clarification on reports that the court had formally received a petition against the first lady from APC and would be given the necessary considerations within the ambits of “the provisions of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, as it does with all such communications”.
“Under Article 15 of the Rome Statute, the Prosecutor of the ICC may receive information on crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court (also called ‘communications’),” OTP said.
“The Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court can confirm receipt of the communication referred to since the sender of the communication has made this fact public in the media,” it added.
Earlier yesterday, the United Kingdom arm of the APC claimed that the criminal court said it would begin investigating the wife of the president.
“The ICC based in The Hague has sent confirmation to APC UK, that an investigation will begin against Mrs. Jonathan who repeatedly called for the stoning of opposition APC members as captured in the videos released earlier this month,” it said.
“The criminal case investigation ICC reference number is: OTP-CR-83/15.”
The OTP also said it would consider the stance of the APC and treat the allegations as appropriate.
“The office will give consideration to this communication, as appropriate, in accordance with the provisions of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, as it does with all such communications.”