The Nigerian government on Thursday said that the country remains a loyal member of the International Criminal Court (ICC), even as some other African nations have denounced its membership in recent times.
This was contained in a statement from the Nigerian ministry of foreign affairs signed by Jane Bassey Adams, who is the acting spokesperson for the ministry.
The pronouncement became necessary on the heels of recent developments witnessed on withdrawal of membership of the International Criminal Court (ICC) by some African countries, which the Nigerian government referred to as national decisions.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs wishes to emphasize the government of Nigeria has no intention of pulling out of the ICC towards improving the working methods of the court for a mere efficient delivery of its mandate in the service of humanity and equitable justice,” the statement read in part.
“Nigeria is and remains a signatory to the Rome Statute adopted on 17th July 1998 and which entered into force in July 1, 2002. Nigeria deposited its instrument on 27th September, 2001,” it further read.
Many member states of The UN, not just Africans, are not yet signatories and state parties of the statute, though non membership does not protect anyone from prosecution by the court, as the UN Security Council can refer cases to the court.
“The time has however come to call on all member states who have not yet signed the Rome Statute to consider becoming signatories to the statute, it is only by working together that we can ensure that the court effectively performs its functions and serves humanity faithfully,” the Nigerian government posited.
It also stressed that Nigeria underscores the ideals and objectives which inspired the creation of ICC, which include fighting impunity and ensuring that perpetrators of crimes such as war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity are brought to justice.
In June 2009, several African states, including Comoros, Djibouti, and Senegal, called on African states parties to withdraw en masse from the statute in protest against the indictment of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.
In September 2013, Kenya’s national assembly passed a motion to withdraw from the ICC in protest against the ICC investigation in Kenya.
A mass withdrawal from the ICC by African member states in response to the trial of Kenyan authorities was discussed at a special summit of the African Union later in October of the same year.
On October 21, 2016, it was reported that a document dated October 19 for the government of South Africa to withdraw from ICC had been signed by Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, the minister of international relations and co-operation.
This was followed by similar withdrawal pronouncements from the ICC by Gambia and Burundi later in the same month.
However, the government said “the ICC represents the hope and aspirations of millions of people around the world. Nigeria as a state party to the Rome Statute believes that the court represents an International mechanism for ensuring justice for all.”
It further added that “a strengthened, reinvigorated and fine-tuned ICC as a symbol of the International Criminal system has an important role to play to offer solace to victims of heinous, despicable and dastardly crimes while letting the perpetrators of those crimes know that there is no rest for the wicked.”