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Polls: ICC insists on prosecuting promoters of violence

The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, has re-affirmed the resolve of her office to prosecute anyone who incites or engages in violence ahead of the March 28 and April 11, 2015 general elections.

The warning came barely two weeks after the All Progressives Congress Presidential Campaign Organisation said it would report the wife of President Goodluck Jonathan, Patience, to the ICC for making inciting statements against APC supporters in Calabar, Cross River State.

The ICC prosecutor in a statement on Monday warned the country against inciting violence ahead of the forthcoming general elections

The statement titled, ‘Statement by the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, ahead of elections in Nigeria: “I reiterate my call to refrain from violence,” partly read, “Following my statement of the 2nd of February 2015, and my Office’s subsequent visit to Nigeria from the 3rd to the 5th of February, 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.”

The statement said Nigeria was among the nine nations where the ICC prosecutor’s office was conducting “preliminary examinations relating to situations”.

Other countries where such preliminary examinations are being conducted are Afghanistan, Colombia, Georgia, Guinea, Honduras, Iraq, Ukraine and Palestine.

The ICC actual investigation of crimes, which fall under the court’s jurisdiction, are often preceded by preliminary examinations.

The statement said the prosecutor had already opened investigations in nine countries – Uganda; Democratic Republic of the Congo; Darfur; Sudan; Central African Republic; Kenya; Libya; Côte d’Ivoire and Mali.

The statement added, “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 the crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. “

The APC had said that Patience, while campaigning for her husband in Calabar, Cross River State, had told the supporters of the Peoples Democratic Party to stone anyone canvassing for change in the state.

The APC campaign organisation said the letter of complaint about Mrs. Jonathan’s speech was signed by its Director-General, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, who is the governor of River State.

It said that the letter would be delivered to ICC on March 10, adding that the Inspector General of Police, Suleiman Abba, and the National Human Rights Commission would also be sent copies of the letter.

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