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ICC to prosecute violent politicians

The International Criminal Court said on Monday that it had deployed its officers in Nigeria to identify perpetrators of electoral violence for the purpose of prosecution.

In a statement on its website, the court said it had jurisdiction over crimes committed in Nigeria or by Nigerians, pursuant to the Rome Statute of July 1, 2002.

The statement was credited to ICC prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda,

Bensouda said the records in his office showed that crimes under the purview of the ICC had already been perpetrated in Nigeria.

The ICC prosecutor said it had observed that electoral competition such as being currently witnessed in the country had high likelihood of precipitating violence, but it said it was better for Nigerian politicians to abide by the peace pact signed in Abuja

He said the court was ready to try anyone culpable of inciting statements or engaging in acts of political violence, adding that nobody should doubt its resolve to do so.

Bensouda’s statement read, “On 14 and 28 February 2015, Nigerians are set to participate in general and state elections in the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Nigerian presidential candidates and political leaders recently signed a pact committing themselves, their parties and their followers to refrain from violence before, during and after these elections. I urge them to consolidate this commitment.

“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 or by Nigerian nationals from 1 July 2002 onwards. Crimes under the jurisdiction of the ICC have already been committed in this context, as reflected in my office’s preliminary examination report published in December 2014. Further analysis is on-going to determine the next steps that my office should take in accordance with its duties under the Rome Statute.

“Experience has shown that electoral competition, when gone astray, can give rise to violence and in the worst case scenarios, even trigger the commission of mass crimes that “shock the conscience of humanity.” Any person who incites or engages in acts of violence, including by ordering, requesting, encouraging or contributing in any other manner to the commission of crimes within ICC’s jurisdiction, is liable to prosecution either by Nigerian courts or by ICC. No one should doubt my resolve, whenever necessary, to prosecute individuals responsible for the commission of ICC crimes.

“A team from my office will be present in Nigeria prior to the elections to further engage with the authorities and encourage the prevention of crimes.”


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