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Why Buhari Is The Only World Leader Invited By ICC – Nigerian Envoy

Buhari-in-the-Hague

 

Olalekan Adetayo, Abuja

Nigeria’s Ambassador to the Netherlands, Oji Ngofa, on Sunday said the decision of the International Criminal Court to invite only President Muhammadu Buhari among other world leaders to the 20th anniversary of the Rome Statute of the Court was an indication of the high regard in which Nigeria is held.

Ngofa said this in an interview with journalists in The Hague ahead of Buhari’s arrival in the country.

He explained that Nigeria has always been a strong pillar of support to the ICC, especially in Africa, since the adoption of the Rome Statute establishing the Court on July 17, 1998.

The envoy said, ‘‘As the only Head of State invited to this milestone event by the Court, that is indicative of the high regard in which Nigeria is held.

‘‘Nigeria has always been a strong pillar of support to the ICC especially in Africa, in the last 20 years, and this visit shows that this support is recognised and appreciated.

‘‘Whilst there has been some criticism of the Court, President Buhari believes that its work is vital to preventing impunity worldwide, and ensuring accountability for perpetrators of the most serious crimes.

‘‘I am certain that this visit will reassure the ICC that Nigeria remains a strong advocate of the ideals of the Rome Statute.”

Ngofa expressed the belief that Buhari’s visit will be an opportunity to show Nigeria’s appreciation for the honour done to the country by electing a Nigerian as President of the Court.

‘‘The President of the Court, Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji is a distinguished Nigerian jurist.

‘‘His election as President by his peers in March 2018 indicates that his cerebral and leadership traits have not gone unnoticed,’’ he said.

The ambassador expressed satisfaction with the current volume of trade between the two counties which he said currently stood at 3 billion Euro in the first quarter of 2018.

He said Nigeria was working hard to diversify its export base and increase the non-oil exports from Nigeria to the Netherlands, in line with the administration’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan.

He added, ‘‘The latest figures released by the NBS (Q1) 2018 shows that the Netherlands is currently Nigeria’s largest trading partner, with the trade volume of over €3 billion (N1.2 trillion).

‘‘This total is composed of imports from the Netherlands worth €726 million and exports to the Netherlands of €2.29 billion. Nigeria, therefore, has a healthy trade surplus with the Netherlands.

‘‘However, a majority of the value of the exports are petroleum-based.”

Ngofa also spoke on the visa policy of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Nigeria.

In 2013, the Netherlands Embassy in Nigeria had swapped their visa application processes in Nigeria with the French Consulate-General in Lagos and the Embassy of Belgium in Abuja.

The envoy said, ”This has been one recurring theme in my interactions with the Dutch authorities since my arrival as Ambassador late last year. I also had to get my visa to this country from the Belgian embassy in Abuja, and upon my arrival, I have kept this issue on the front burner with host authorities.

”We have made series of representations and the Dutch have promised to expedite action to see that their Embassy resumes issuance of Schengen visas in Abuja.

”We believe that with the increasing trade relations between our countries, priority must be given by the Dutch to visa applicants in Nigeria, as this would facilitate business and people-to-people contact.”

On other consular issues, the Ambassador praised Nigerian community in the Netherlands for being generally law-abiding and contributing positively to various aspects of Dutch society.

”There are, however, a few Nigerians who are detained mainly for immigration and sundry offences.

”The Embassy always provides consular assistance to them, upon their request, and also liaises with the host authorities to ensure that the basic human rights of the detainees are respected. From our records, there are less than 30 Nigerians detained in the Netherlands,” he said.  (Punch)

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Biafra: ICC To Investigate Killing Of IPOB Activists During ‘Operation Python Dance’

Soldiers-IPOBmembers in Aba

Inhumane treatment of IPOB members by Nigerian soldiers during ‘operation python dance’ in South East Nigeria

The International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague has indicated that it will investigate the September 2017 invasion of a community in Abia State, Nigeria by soldiers of the Nigeria Army during a military exercise codenamed Operation Python Dance.

This was contained in a letter from the office of the prosecutor in response to a petition filed to the court by a Nigerian award-winning journalist, Mr. Ahaoma Kanu, following the military occupation of Afara Ukwu community in Umuahia in a bid to arrest the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB), Mr. Nnamdi Kanu, which led to the killing of several unarmed members of the group.

The letter with reference number OTP-CR-413/17 dated March 20, 2018, which is the second response by the court to the petitioner, confirmed that the military invasion and deaths recorded relate to a situation already under preliminary examination by the Office of the Prosecutor.

“Accordingly, your communication will be analysed in this context, with the assistance of other related communications and other available information,” the letter signed by Mark Dillon, head of the Information and Evidence Unit at the Office of the Prosecutor, read.

Members of the IPOB have come under constant attack by security agencies in Nigeria including the Nigeria Army, Directorate for State Security (DSS) and the Nigeria Police leading to the extrajudicial killing of hundreds of their members since 2015 when Nnamdi Kanu was arrested on charges of treason. After the September 16, 2017, attack on his country home, Kanu and his aged father have not been seen till date fuelling speculations he was being held by the state.

Following petitions by civil rights groups, ICC commenced and concluded preliminary investigations into the alleged killing of over 200 members of the Islamic M0vement of Nigeria (IMN) in December 2015 as well as opened preliminary investigations into the killings of members of the IPOB by the Nigeria Army soldiers in October 2015.

In a September 24, 2017 petition, CNN African Journalist Award winner, Ahaoma Kanu, filed a petition to the ICC calling for an investigation and prosecution of the Chief of Army Staff, Major General Tukur Buratai and all members of the Nigeria Army involved in the extrajudicial killings of the IPOB members during the Operation Python Dance exercise.

Dillon stated that” Under Article 53 of the Rome Statutes, the Prosecutor must consider whether there is a reasonable basis to believe that crimes within the jurisdiction of the court have been committed, the gravity of the crimes, whether national systems are investigating and prosecuting the relevant crimes, and the interests of justice.”

He went further to say that “Analysis will be carried out as expeditiously as possible, but please be aware that meaningful analysis of these factors can take some time,” promising to provide reasons for any decision reached by the court to proceed with the investigation.

The petitioner said he is very optimistic that the court will reach a decision to go ahead with an investigation because of the weight of evidence attached to a memory stick attached to the petition.

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