Sudan’s President Bashir’s Visit: Apologise To ICC, Oyebode Urges Nigeria

Channels Television  
Updated July 17, 2013

A professor of International Law, Akin Oyebode has asked the Federal Government of Nigeria to apologise to the international community for hosting rather than arresting Sudan’s President, Omar al-Bashir.

Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir received a full guard of honour at Abuja

Mr Bashir was in Nigeria for an African Union-organised health summit due to end on Tuesday.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for Mr Bashir in 2009, accusing him of committing genocide during the 10-year conflict in Sudan’s Darfur region.

Some 2.7 million people have fled their homes since the conflict began in Darfur in 2003, and the UN says about 300,000 black Africans have died – mostly from disease.

Sudan’s government says the conflict has killed about 12,000 people and the number of dead has been exaggerated for political reasons.

Mr Oyebode said, “The embarrassing thing is that Nigeria touts the fact that it is the world’s largest black nation and so I thought the interest of black Africans should predominate. I have never believed that Nigeria would end up in this kind of situation; so messy and have made nonsense of the foreign policies enunciated from the time of General Murtala Ramat Mohammed.

The professor said the African Union could have cajoled Nigeria to take an unpopular stance towards Mr Bashir by endorsing its candidature for a non-permanent membership at the next election in September.

He said, “In the Interest of Africa, I think even the OAU stance was misdirected.

“I agree that there are so many people that could have been dragged before the ICC, for instance one George W Bush and also Tony Blair and so many others. But there are procedures for these things in terms of how to bring accused persons before the International Criminal Court.

“In this particular case, Nigeria defaulted because there’s an international arrest warrant issued to get Omar al-Bashir. Nigeria failed to deliver and as I said, Nigeria should be extremely sorry for putting its foot in its mouth.

‘Breach of obligations’

Sudan does not recognise the ICC and accuses it of being a tool of Western powers, while the AU has called on its members not to arrest Mr Bashir.

Mr Bashir was to due to speak at the summit in the capital, Abuja, on Monday but when he was called to make a presentation, he was nowhere to be found.

Mr Bashir received a full guard of honour from the Nigerian government when he arrived in Abuja on Sunday to attend the summit, which is looking at ways to curb malaria, Aids and tuberculosis in Africa.

Leaders from eight other African countries are attending the summit, Associated Press news agency reports.

Nigerian presidential spokesman Reuben Abati said Mr Bashir had been in Abuja at the AU’s invitation, not Nigeria’s.

Nigeria allowed him into the country in accordance with an AU decision not to cooperate with the ICC, he said.

The Nigerian Coalition for the International Criminal Court (NCICC) filed papers in the High Court on Monday, to push the government to arrest Mr Bashir.

Nigeria was in breach of its international obligations by failing to arrest him, and was fuelling a culture of impunity, NCICC chair Chino Obiagwu said.

EU Query

The European Union (EU) Tuesday blamed Nigeria for not arresting Mr Bashir.

A statement by Spokesperson of EU High Representative, Catherine Ashton, on the visit of the indicted Sudan’s President, noted that he was under an arrest warrant by the ICC for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The spokesperson said that Nigeria was obliged to abide by the resolution of the resolutions adopted by the Security Council under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, in this case UNSCR 1593(2005).

It stated: “The High Representative is concerned by the visit of President of Sudan, Omar al-Bashir, to Nigeria, a State Party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC).”

She recalled that al-Bashir is under an arrest warrant by the ICC for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

The High Representative reiterates the importance for all member-states of the United Nations to abide by and implement the resolutions adopted by the Security Council under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, in this case UNSCR 1593(2005). She urged Nigeria to respect its obligations under international law to arrest and surrender those subject to an arrest warrant from the ICC.