Nigeria under fire for hosting al-Bashir


•Govt: he’s AU’s guest

THERE was outrage yesterday over Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir’s presence in Nigeria. al-Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague is in Abuja attending the Africa Union (AU) summit on HIV/AIDS.

International and local organisations are calling on the Federal Government to arrest him in Abuja.
The United Kingdom (UK) also berated the Federal Government for hosting him.
But the government has said it will not order al-Bashir’s arrest because he is a guest of the AU and not that of the government.

The UK Foreign Office Minister for Africa Mark Simmonds, expressed disappointment that Nigeria chose to allow al-Bashir to attend the summit.

The Nigeria Coalition on the International Criminal Court (NCICC) has filed a suit at the Federal High Court in Abuja to seek arrest warrant against al-Bashir.

Mark Simmonds said: “The UK has a strong and abiding bilateral relationship with Nigeria. I am therefore disappointed that Nigeria has chosen to host President al-Bashir of Sudan at an African Union event, despite International Criminal Court (ICC) arrest warrants against him for alleged war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.

“This undermines the work of the ICC and sends the victims a dismaying message that the accountability they are waiting for will be delayed further.
“The British Government takes seriously its obligations as a State Party to the Rome Statute and consistently urges other State Parties in all parts of the world to do the same.”

The NCICC called for al-Bashir’s “immediate arrest and surrender to the trial chambers of the International Criminal Court in The Hague for atrocity crimes in Darfur with which he is charged.”
The coalition made the demands in a statement in Abuja by its Steering committee Chairman Chino Obiagwu; Vice Chair Dr Abiola Akiyode and Treasurer Mrs. Oby Nwankwo.

“The judiciary in this country has the responsibility to implement legal obligations created by treaties undertaken by Nigeria. As a state party to the Rome statute of the ICC, Nigeria is under legal obligation to execute within its national jurisdiction the arrest warrants issued by the trial chamber of the ICC against Mr. al-Bashir while in its national territory.
“It is not an excuse that African Union is calling its members not to cooperate with the ICC. The obligation of State Parties to the ICC, who have ratified the treaty, is stronger and legally binding than mere resolution of the African Union. Moreso, a Nigerian judge is in the chambers of the ICC.

The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has sent urgent request to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Ms Fatou Bensouda, requesting her to “use your good offices and position to urgently refer the Nigerian government to the UN Security Council for failing to arrest President Omar Al-Bashir and surrender him to the International Criminal Court to face fair trial on the charges against him.”

In the petition dated 15 July 2013 and signed by Solicitor to SERAP Femi Falana, SAN, the organisation stated: “Nigeria is a state party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, having ratified the Statute in September 2001. Under Article 87, the ICC Prosecutor can refer a state party that refuses to cooperate with a request from the ICC to the Assembly of States Parties or, where the Security Council referred the matter to the Court as in this case, to the Security Council.”

The organization said: “President Omar Al-Bashir is currently in Abuja attending a conference. SERAP notes that the International Criminal Court already issued two arrest warrants for Omar Al-Bashir for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes in Darfur. The warrants, issued in 2009 and 2010, charge him with criminal responsibility on 10 counts, including murder, extermination, forcible transfer of population, torture and rape.”
But Minister of Foreign Affairs, Amb. Olugbenga Ashiru, yesterday said al-Bashir is in Nigeria at the instance of the AU.

He said Nigeria has no choice than to remain committed to the decision of the AU.
Ashiru, who spoke with our correspondent from Brazil, said: “Remember AU in 2009 passed a resolution not to cooperate with the ICC on indictment of President Al Bashir.
“He is therefore not in Nigeria at our instance. Nigeria’s commitment to AU remains firm.”

The 2009 Resolution of the AU reads: “[The AU] decides that in view of the fact that a request of the African Union [to defer al-Bashir’s indictment] has never been acted upon, the AU member states shall not co-operate pursuant to the provisions of Article 98 of the Rome Statute of the ICC relating to immunities for the arrest and surrender of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to the ICC.”



The Nation


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