President Goodluck Jonathan has pledged Nigeria’s support to the International Criminal Court in its efforts to check impunity.
The President made this known to the Chief Prosecutor of the ICC, Fatou Bensouda, when she made a courtesy call at the State House on Tuesday.
Nigeria does not encourage impunity, and will cooperate with the ICC to check it,” Jonathan said.
“We are open to you and have nothing to hide.
He added that he had directed the Attorney-General and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation to “ensure that the ICC Chief Prosecutor receives all the support and cooperation required to make her visit to Nigeria a fruitful one.”
He drew Bensouda’s attention to the ICC’s involvement in five situations in Africa, with the attendant criticism from the continent, and called on the Chief Prosecutor to use her experience in the Court to resolve potential areas of conflict or disagreement.
The President said while the African Union’s instruments do not condone impunity, greater engagement by the ICC with the AU should create the enabling environment for co-operation towards the realisation of the Court’s laudable objectives.
Earlier, Bensouda told the President that she was in Nigeria on the government’s invitation, to discuss co-operation and the Court’s work in the country over the past five years.
She however said the Court is not yet investigating the killings in Nigeria, but is ensuring that Nigeria is investigating and prosecuting perpetrators of those crimes as it should.
Bensouda said Nigeria was not under any investigation, as the government bore responsibility for investigating and prosecuting any crimes in the country. She expressed appreciation that this was already being done.
The ICC Chief Prosecutor said the Court was not targeting Africa, but all cases on the continent, besides Kenya, were originated by Africans. She added that this was good for the victims of such crimes.
Speaking to journalists after the meeting with the President, she said, “My mission was to meet with the President and other authorities in Nigeria. First of all, to thank Nigeria for the co-operation that we have been receiving at the International Criminal Court, but also to discuss issues of general cooperation with the authorities, starting with the President, and also to brief on the preliminary examinations that have been taking place by the office of the prosecutor since four to five years now regarding the trouble in the middle-belt area and most recently with the Boko Haram.”
Speaking about the concerns of the ICC on Boko Haram, she said, “Of course these crimes are taking place, but we are happy at the moment that Nigeria is also taking steps to address these crimes. As you know, these crimes may be called terrorist attacks but they could also qualify as crimes against humanity and the ICC is not a court of first instance, it is a court of last resort.
As long as the Nigerian government is taking steps to address these crimes, the ICC will not intervene. And I want to emphasise that ICC is not yet investigating these crimes. Nigeria’s situation is just under preliminary examination and if we see, by monitoring these crimes, that the same crimes we are monitoring the Nigerian government is addressing those crimes, there will be no need for ICC’s intervention.