ICC denies meeting with Buhari at Hague

By Valentine Amanze

The Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC) has said that the Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari did not discuss with ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda.

  This was contrary to what the Presidency stated that Buhari, during a recent visit to The Hague, had discussion with Bensouda on election violence, terrorism,

Hostages and the recent Jos crises.

 But International Human Rights lawyer, and member, U.S. Nigeria Law Group, Emmanuel Ogebe, who visited ICC, The Hague last week, confirmed that the Nigerian leader had no discussion with the ICC chief.

  Ogebe said that when he visited the ICC last week that he demanded the minutes of the meeting between Buhari and Chief Prosecutor Bensouda to be publicly disclosed; and was told that such didn’t exist.

  His words: “Last week, I visited the International Criminal Court in The Hague to discuss sundry matters related to the situation in Nigeria including:

election violence, Terrorism, Hostages; and the recent Jos crises.

  “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 Fatou 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.”

  Ogebe pointed out that the Chief Prosecutor maintained that her mandate empowers her to engage with national leaders, stressing that even if she had met with Buhari, it would have been in order.

 “She emphasized that her not meeting with Buhari was not because she lacked the powers so to do or because she was avoiding him,” he said.

  Ogebe however thanked the Chief Prosecutor for acknowledging the group’s concerns over the controversial visit.

  He reminded the Prosecutor that not only must Justice be done but it must be seen to be done, while commending 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,” he said.

 Ogebe urged the ICC to attend to the Nigerian situation with a stronger sense of urgency that Black Lives Matter.

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