ICC Chief Prosecutor Did Not Meet With Buhari During Hague Visit
By Emmanuel Ogebe
Last week, I visited the International Criminal Court in The Hague to discuss sundry matters related to the situation in Nigeria including:
While the kernel of our discussions remain confidential, I wish to gratefully acknowledge the response of the Chief Prosecutor to my memos raising concern over the visit of Gen Buhari as special guest speaker at the chambers of the ICC (“Troubling Visit of Nigeria’s President Buhari to ICC,”)
In the memos dated July 15 and August 6, I had asked for the minutes of the meeting between Gen Buhari and Chief Prosecutor Bensouda to be publicly disclosed.
However, I was advised by the Officer of the Prosecutor (OTP) that Chief Prosecutor Bensouda did not in fact have a meeting with Gen. Buhari as claimed in the schedule released by the government of Nigeria.
Apart from brief greetings, the Chief Prosecutor did not have a private meeting with the Nigerian President. Rather she did meet with the Attorney General of Nigeria who is the relevant responding party she interfaces with regarding Nigeria.
The Chief Prosecutor maintains that her mandate empowers her to engage with national leaders so even if she had met with Gen. Buhari, it would have been in order.
She emphasized that her not meeting with Gen. Buhari was not because she lacked the powers so to do or because she was avoiding him.
I thank the Chief Prosecutor for acknowledging our concerns over the controversial visit.
I remind the Prosecutor that not only must Justice be done but justice must be seen to be done.
I commend the Chief Prosecutor for her consistent responsiveness to civil society from since when she was a deputy Chief Prosecutor.
At a time when the Court and the OTP are headed by West Africans, it is critical that human rights in the region be valued and elevated for the progress of our people.
As the first graduate of the Nigerian Law School to attain the exalted position of the World’s “Attorney General”, I am proud of Chief Prosecutor Bensouda’s achievement and will do what I can to ensure her success for humanity.
I did communicate to the OTP that my 6 year old relative who died in the Plateau massacre of June 2018 was not even born when I first started engaging with them so this underscores the urgency of dealing with the Nigerian situation as people are dying daily.
In conclusion, as I took the train in The Hague, I wondered if things would be business as usual if over a dozen people were slaughtered there that same week as had just happened in Jos?
I believe the ICC must attend to the Nigerian situation with a stronger sense of urgency that Black Lives Matter.
By Emmanuel Ogebe
US NIGERIA LAW GROUP