Buhari At ICC: Desecrating Int’l Humans Right System
By Eze Eluchie
The crowning event of the 20th anniversary commemorations of the coming into force of the Rome Statute of International Criminal Court (ICC) was unwittingly turned into the fall from lofty heights of the ICC with the calibre of person who was invited to stain the hallowed walkways and chambers of the erstwhile reputable institution.
When the United Nations Diplomatic Conference of Plenipotentiaries on the Establishment of an International Criminal Court adopted the Rome Statute on the 17th of July 1998, there had been universal celebration and expectations that the immunity tyrants across the world accorded themselves for hurts and crimes they commit within their territories would be brought to an end by the internationalization of responsibilities, jurisdiction and consequences for atrocities no matter where committed and by whosoever.
The mandate of the ICC established under the Rome Statute gave the ICC wide ranging powers to investigate, prosecute and punish persons, no matter what positions they occupy, who commit specified vile and heinous crimes, such as Genocides, Crimes against humanity, and other mass atrocities.
In keeping with its mandate and to the admiration of all lovers of humanity, the ICC undertook laudable interventions to hold perpetrators of mass atrocities in Congo DRC, Darfur, Sudan and Kenya, amongst other countries, to account.
It was also expected that with multiple and widespread cases of well-orchestrated and organized acts of ass atrocities being witnessed across the globe in such diverse territories as Syria, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Venezuela, Uganda, Congo DRC., North Korea amongst others, that the 20th anniversary of the Rome Statute will serve to create renewed impetus and vigour to energize the ICC establishment to effectively pursue and actualize its mandate.
With an announcement which jolted the International Human Rights community and was obviously made to mock efforts at ensuring accountability for the various atrocities committed by it and launder the image of the increasingly despotic and anti-democratic regime, the Government of Nigeria announced that the Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari had been ‘invited’ by the ICC to be a Guest Speaker at events commemorating the 20th anniversary of the Rome Statute.
The shock of the announcement, which was made barely 48 hours to the event, was palpable across the world and caught activists worldwide flat-footed, as there was little to no time to effectively react to what was clearly a most un-thought out gaffe by the ICC.
The announcement coming a few weeks after the Nigerian Attorney General had announced that the Nigerian government was under active investigations by the ICC, on account of several atrocities committed in the course of the current governments existence, was to say the least, quite shocking and gave rise to suspicions that untoward and spurious ‘arrangements’ might have been effected to ensure and secure the ‘invite’.
The invite automatically stimulates a plethora of questions: The Head of a government under several active and ongoing investigations by the Office of the Prosecutor of the ICC, being invited to speak at the ICC?
A Muhammadu Buhari under whose tenure over a thousand Shiite Muslims were slaughtered in Zaria (Kaduna State, North-Central Nigeria), under flimsy pretexts?
- The Muhammadu Buhari under whose command unarmed pro-Biafra protesters were mowed down by soldiers in Aba (Abia State, South-Eastern Nigeria)?
- A Muhammadu Buhari who has repeatedly asked the victims of ethnic cleansing being perpetuated by Herdsmen to go back and co-habit/accommodate their killers whilst his soldiers looked the other way as the atrocities were being committed?
- A Muhammadu Buhari who had confessed to partaking in the Biafra genocide where over 2 million persons had been killed?
- The same Muhammadu Buhari whose ‘law enforcement’ officials are framing up opposition politicians and embarking on intense witch-hunting exercises to targeted segments of the Nigerian population?; and a plethora of other minuses.
And this is the character that the ICC found worthy to grace and speak at the 20th anniversary commemorations of the Rome Statute?
Other germane questions now ensuing include: Why was Kenyan President, Uhuru Kenyatta, hounded with relish by the ICC despite clear evidence that the entire prosecution was a fabrication of external elements distant from Kenya?
Was the pursuit of Libya’s Saif al-Islam Ghadaffi and Cote D’Ivoire’s Laurent Gbagbo by the ICC based on non-altruistic considerations?
What really did Sudanese ruler, Omar al-Bashir commit to deserve the ICC’s ire that the ‘invited speaker’ at the ICC 20th anniversary has not surpassed?
Were those being ‘investigated’ and ‘prosecuted’ by the ICC unable to meet up with some other thrifty considerations which the Nigerian ruler easily met, to warrant the unfortunate invitation, rather than formal arrest and prosecution?
If a Buhari could have been invited to speak, why not Omar al-Bashir?!
One begins to wonder if ICC Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda and the Justices of the ICC did not feel the sticky wetness of congealed blood of innocents as they shook hands with Buhari whilst welcoming him to the ICC Headquarters in The Hague.
As Buhari’s mostly incoherent ramblings filled the Chambers of the ICC during his presentations, did the audience not hear the eerie whisper of the voice of the thousands of innocent victims who were forcefully translated to the great beyond under Buhari’s watch and rulership?
It is such actions, as the invitation extended to a fascist ruler to hobnob with authorities and instruments meant to advance the course of international human rights and justice, which justify the withdrawal of the United States from erstwhile pivotal agencies for the advancement of human rights and justice such as the United Nations Human Rights Council.
The International Criminal Justice system took a deep cut when the Nigerian ruler was admitted to the Chambers of the ICC, not as a suspect undergoing trial but as a ‘speaker’.
It is highly contestable whether the system will survive such a fundamental assault. A thorough cleansing of the now jaundiced system is required – a truly sad day for international human rights, Justice and Humanity generally.