Law News
We’ll prosecute Boko Haram if… – ICC

The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Ms Fatou Bensouda, has said that the ICC   will prosecute the crimes being committed by Boko Haram insurgents and other offences relating to electoral violence if the Nigerian government fails to do so.

The Director of Jurisdiction, Complementarity and Cooperation Division at the ICC, Mr. Phakiso Mochochoko, addressed journalists on behalf of the prosecutor in Abuja on Thursday.

Mochochoko, who said Nigeria had been under the ICC’s preliminary examination since 2010, noted that crimes which fell under the jurisdiction of the court as prescribed in the Rome Statute had already been committed in the country.

He said the preliminary examination was not the same thing as investigating crimes but an exercise conducted to establish “whether there is reasonable basis for us to proceed to the next stage, which is the investigation.”

He said his team was in the country to exchange views with the Federal Government in relation to the February general elections and also with regard to the prosecutor’s ongoing preliminary assessment.

The ICC official said, “The message from the prosecutor is to all parties engaged in elections in Nigeria to refrain from inciting violence, to refrain from committing any act of violence and in particular to refrain from committing crimes that fall within the jurisdiction of the ICC.

“The message from the prosecutor is that Nigeria is a state party to the statute of the International Criminal Court and that as such, the prosecutor has the jurisdiction over any crimes that can be committed in Nigeria.

“Her message is that she will not hesitate to take any action against anyone who may be responsible for inciting violence to committing crimes that fall within the jurisdiction of the court.”

He said though the ICC prosecutor was aware of the crimes committed by Boko Haram and other offences that fell within the court’s jurisdiction, part of the procedure for the prosecutor to take up the investigation and prosecution was to conduct the preliminary examination.

According to Mochochoko, its preliminary examination on Nigeria since 2010 has not revealed that the government has been unwilling or unable to investigate or prosecute the crimes.

He said, “In the context of Nigeria, we have already established that crimes that fall within the jurisdiction of the court have been committed or are being committed. In particular, we are looking at crimes that are being committed by Boko Haram.

“The stage at which we are now is to assess whether there are any proceedings that are ongoing in Nigeria. Under the Rome Statute system, Nigeria is a state party.

“It has the primary responsibility to investigate and prosecute these crimes. It is only if Nigeria is unwilling or unable to prosecute these crimes that the ICC prosecutor can intervene.”

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