Congolese Warlord ‘Terminator’ Gets Harshest ICC Sentence Ever

File photo of Bosco Ntaganda.

 

The International Criminal Court sentenced Congolese rebel Bosco “Terminator” Ntaganda to 30 years in jail for war crimes and crimes against humanity on Thursday, the highest ever penalty issued by the tribunal.

Ntaganda was convicted in July of offences including murder, sexual slavery and using child soldiers in a mineral-rich region of the Democratic Republic of Congo in the early 2000s.

Most of the charges against Rwandan-born Ntaganda, 46, related to a series of gruesome massacres of villagers carried out by his fighters.

“Murder was committed on a large scale,” presiding judge Robert Flemr said, adding that the Hague-based court had taken the “particular cruelty” of some of Ntaganda’s actions into account.

“The overall sentence imposed on you shall therefore be 30 years of imprisonment.”

But while the judges gave him the maximum sentence allowed by the ICC in terms of the number of years, they said that “despite their gravity” his crimes did not warrant a full-life prison term.

Ntaganda, dressed in a blue suit and shirt and wearing a red tie, showed no emotion as the sentence was passed in the high-security courtroom.

An ICC spokesman confirmed it was the heaviest ever sentence handed down to date by the court, which was set up in 2002 to try the world’s worst crimes.

Ntaganda has appealed against his conviction earlier this year on 13 counts of war crimes and five of crimes against humanity — which saw him become the first to be convicted by the ICC of sexual enslavement.

‘Held to account’

Human Rights Watch welcomed the prison term.

“Bosco Ntaganda’s 30-year sentence sends a strong message that even people considered untouchable may one day be held to account,” said Ida Sawyer, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Africa division.

“While his victims’ pain cannot be erased, they can take some comfort in seeing justice prevail.”

A refugee from the 1994 genocide of Tutsis in Rwanda, Ntaganda emerged as a ruthless driver of ethnic Tutsi revolts that subsequently convulsed neighbouring DRC.

Judges said Ntaganda was a “key leader” of the Union of Congolese Patriots rebel group and its military wing, the Patriotic Forces for the Liberation of Congo (FPLC), in the DRC’s volatile Ituri region in 2002 and 2003.

More than 60,000 people have been killed since the violence erupted in Ituri, according to rights groups, as militias battle each other for control of mineral resources.

The court heard fearful villagers dubbed him “Terminator”, after the Arnold Schwarzenegger film about a merciless robotic killer, during two bloody operations by Ntaganda’s soldiers against civilians in rival villages in 2002 and 2003.

Fighters loyal to him carried out atrocities such as a massacre in a banana field behind a village in which at least 49 people including children and babies were disembowelled or had their heads smashed in.

No mitigating factors

Ntaganda received a series of sentences ranging from eight to 30 years, with ICC rules saying that the overall prison term must reflect the highest individual sentence.

He got 30 years for murder and attempted murder, with judges saying he was directly guilty of the murder of Catholic priest and indirectly responsible for many others by directing the military offensives. He also received a 30-year sentence for persecution.

Ntaganda further received 28 years for the “systematic” rape of “women, girls and men” including girls aged nine and 11; a sentence 14 years for the sex slavery of child soldiers recruited by his group; and 12 years for the sexual enslavement of civilian children.

Judges said they found no mitigating factors, despite defence arguments that he was himself a victim of the Rwandan genocide.

Ntaganda — known for his pencil moustache and a penchant for fine dining — said during his trial that he was “soldier not a criminal” and that the “Terminator” nickname did not apply to him.

After the Ituri conflict, Ntaganda was integrated into the Congolese army and was a general from 2007 to 2012, but then became a founding member of the M23 rebel group in a new uprising against the government.

In 2013 Ntaganda became the first ever suspect to surrender to the court, walking into the US embassy in the Rwandan capital Kigali and asking to be sent to the Netherlands.

Ntaganda is one of five Congolese warlords to have been brought before the ICC, and his former FPLC commander Thomas Lubanga was sentenced to 14 years in jail in 2012.

His conviction was seen as a boost for the ICC after several high-profile suspects walked free. The court has also been criticised for mainly trying African suspects.

AFP

ICC Turns Down Request To Probe War Crimes In Afghanistan

(FILES) This file photo taken on May 3, 2018, during a press conference in Kinshasa shows ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda whose office said on April 5, 2019, the United States has revoked her visa over a possible investigation of American soldiers’ actions in Afghanistan.
John WESSELS / AFP

 

Judges at the International Criminal Court Friday turned down a request to open a war crimes probe in Afghanistan, a week after Washington revoked the court’s chief prosecutor’s visa over the case.

“The judges decided that an investigation into the situation in Afghanistan at this stage would not serve the interests of justice,” the Hague-based court said in a statement.

Fatou Bensouda’s US visa was revoked over a possible probe involving American soldiers’ actions since 2003 in the bloody Afghan conflict.

READ ALSO: Estonia Shipwreck Survivors Demand Compensation After 25 Years

Bensouda in late 2017 asked judges to give her permission to probe alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in Afghanistan committed by the Taliban, Afghan government forces and international forces including US troops.

The US has never joined the ICC and does not recognise its authority over American citizens, saying it poses a threat to national sovereignty.

Washington also argues that it has its own robust procedures in place to deal with US troops who engage in misconduct.

Judges said Friday that “notwithstanding the fact that all the relevant requirements are met as regards both jurisdiction and admissibility… the current circumstances in Afghanistan… make the prospect of a successful investigation and prosecution extremely limited.”

The time elapsed since the opening of a preliminary probe in 2006, Afghanistan’s changing political scene and the “lack of political cooperation the prosecutor has received” was likely to grow scarcer should an investigation proceed, the judges said.

The court, which operates on a limited budget, also needed to prioritise its resources on “activities that would have a better chance to succeed,” the judges said.

AFP

Nigerian Govt Can Prosecute Boko Haram Terrorists Without Involving ICC – Adeogun-Philips

Boko Haram Funded By Charitable Donations, Extortion, Others – UN
File photo of a Boko Haram vehicle recovered by the Nigerian Army

 

A former International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor, Charles Adeogun-Philips, says the Nigerian government can prosecute Boko Haram terrorists without involving The Hague.

He noted that Nigeria’s membership of the ICC grants it the opportunity to bring Boko Haram terrorists to the World Court, to have them prosecuted but Nigeria would not need to present such cases to the ICC if only it has domesticated the Rome Statute.

“Based on the complementary nature of the jurisdiction of the ICC, Nigeria can by itself, if only it ratifies the Rome Statute and domesticate it within its own law.

“In other words, if the Rome Statute and the International Crimes become domesticated within our laws, we will then be able to prosecute these sorts of atrocities within our local jurisdiction,” he said.

Adeogun-Philips stressed that ICC was not designed to be a watchdog or serve as the “world policeman.”

“It relies very heavily on the cooperation of members states to be able to carry out its functions,” he added.

According to the ICC Prosecutor, the important thing is for the Nigerian government to develop International Criminal Law in the domestic jurisdiction so that it can prosecute those crimes within its own jurisdiction without necessarily referring them to The Hague.

ICC Is Now Needed More Than Ever – Buhari (Full Speech)

President Buhari in a group photo with Judges of the Criminal Court ahead of his Keynote address at the 20th Anniversary of the International Criminal Court (ICC) at the Hague, Netherlands on 17th July 2018.
President Buhari in a group photo with Judges of the Criminal Court ahead of his Keynote address at the 20th Anniversary of the International Criminal Court (ICC) at the Hague, Netherlands on 17th July 2018.

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has called for support for the International Criminal Court (ICC) in jurisdiction over serious cases of corruption noting that the International court is now needed more than ever.

The President made this call on Tuesday while delivering a keynote address at the 20th anniversary of the International Criminal Court (ICC) at the Hague.

President Buhari believes that the ICC also needs increased cooperation and financial resources from its member states.

He said, “with the alarming proliferation of the most serious crimes around the world, the ICC, and all that it stands for is now needed more than ever, in ways that were unforeseeable to its founders.”

 

Read Full text of his address below…

KEYNOTE ADDRESS DELIVERED BY HIS EXCELLENCY MUHAMMADU BUHARI, PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA, ON THE OCCASION OF THE 20TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION OF THE INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT, THE HAGUE, NETHERLANDS.

Protocols:

I am honoured to be with you here today to celebrate the anniversary of this vital global institution. I say “vital” because the world needs the ICC.

2. Let me start by congratulating you, Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji, on your election as President of the International Criminal Court, and also thank the judges of the Court for electing you, a cherished son of Nigeria. Nigeria is very proud of you, Mr. President.

3. Let me also express my gratitude to the International Criminal Court for inviting me to speak on this occasion.

4. As we know, the International Criminal Court was established twenty years ago as a global court, inspired by the Nuremberg trials of World War II war criminals, to hold people accountable for crimes against humanity, war crimes, crimes of genocide and aggression.

5. In addition to preventing impunity, promoting adherence and respect for the rule of law and fundamental freedoms worldwide and to punishing those in leadership positions responsible for the most appalling crimes and atrocities, the ICC has given hope for justice to so many, by demanding strict adherence to the rules of international humanitarian law.

6. With the alarming proliferation of the most serious crimes around the world, the ICC, and all that it stands for, is now needed more than ever, in ways that were unforeseeable to its founders. The ICC may have been created at a time of optimism that it would not need to be utilized frequently, but, unfortunately, the increase in international crimes has only increased the Court’s relevance.

7. Indeed, while limits on the ICC’s jurisdiction mean that it cannot presently act with regard to some of the dire crises of the day in states that are not parties, by acting where it can, the ICC reinforces the demand for justice far beyond its own cases.

8. A strong and effective ICC has the potential to send a powerful message about the international community’s commitment to accountability, a message that will be heard by both victims and perpetrators. Equally, a strong and effective ICC demonstrates the international community’s commitment to the rule of law.

9. A strong and effective ICC can also act as a catalyst for other justice efforts, expanding the reach of accountability. These could include serious cases of corruption by state actors that severely compromise the development efforts of countries and throw citizens into greater poverty. These could also include cases of illicit financial flows where countries are complicit and obstruct repatriation of stolen assets. As the African Union Champion on Anti-corruption, these are issues dear to my heart.

10. The Rome Statute created more than a court; it created the outline for a system of justice for horrific crimes rooted first in national courts doing their job, and where they fail to do so, the ICC stepping in only as “the court of the last resort”

11. The ICC also needs increased cooperation and financial resources from its member states. State parties should express their commitment to increasing efforts in these areas, including pledging concrete assistance.

12. The twenty years of the Court’s existence have witnessed several challenges, some of which had threatened the very existence of the Court itself. Most notable were the withdrawals and threats of withdrawals of membership of the Court by some States, as well as accusations of bias in the exercise of the jurisdiction of the Court. Thankfully, the Court has addressed these challenges in a dignified and commendable way.

13. Nonetheless, the Court needs to take on board all constructive criticisms and allay lingering fears and concern through targeted messaging, awareness raising and possible modification of some legal provisions. If properly articulated, communication and awareness raising would surely engender trust and encourage greater cooperation of Member States with the Court and even encourage non – Member States to decide to become Members. It must avoid even a hint of bias or political motivations.

14. The goals and responsibilities of the Court are no doubt very challenging and daunting but with the cooperation of all, coupled with the high calibre of Judges and staff of the Court, the challenges are not insurmountable. I, therefore, urge all States not to politicize the decisions of the Court but to always bear in mind the rationale for the establishment of the Court in the first place.

15. I urge all States that have not yet done so to, as a matter of deliberate State policy, accede to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court so that it can become a universal treaty.

16. Nigeria has cooperated with, and supported the Court at all times. This, we have demonstrated by our full and transparent cooperation on matters on which we are being investigated and also in our several Country statements at the sessions of the Court. Our cooperation with the Court is borne out of our strong belief in the respect for the rule of law and human rights, and in our firm commitment to the sanctity of fundamental freedoms at international and domestic levels, as ingrained in the objectives for establishing the Court.

17. In conclusion, let me intimate you that Nigeria is preparing to conduct general elections in 2019. Contrary to the tragic incidents that characterized the 2011 general elections in Nigeria which necessitated preliminary investigations by the International Criminal Court, I assure you that all hands are on deck to prevent any recurrence of such tragic incidents. We shall do everything possible to ensure that Nigeria witnesses the conduct of free, fair and peaceful elections in 2019.

18. Again, I congratulate the Court on its 20th Anniversary and wish it continued growth, relevance and success in the years to come in its vital role as a bulwark against man’s inhumanity to man.

Thank you for your attention.

 

 

Buhari Assures ICC Of Free And Fair Elections In 2019

President Muhammadu Buhari addressing International Criminal Court (ICC) on Tuesday, July 17.

 

President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday, in the Netherlands, assured that the 2019 general election in Nigeria will be free, fair, and peaceful

The President made this promise while delivering a keynote address at the 20th anniversary of the International Criminal Court (ICC) at the Hague, Netherlands. He said contrary to the tragic incidents that characterised the 2011 general elections, all hands are on deck to ensure the conduct of 2019 elections will be peaceful.

‘‘Nigeria is preparing to conduct general elections in 2019. I assure you that all hands are on deck to prevent any recurrence of such tragic incidents,” he said.

It will be recalled that scores of people were killed in parts of the country in the wake of the violence that broke out after the 2011 elections in Nigeria. The international community had to conduct preliminary investigations into some of the incidents that trailed the elections.

President Buhari, however, said this will not occur in 2019, vowing that, “We shall do everything possible to ensure that Nigeria witnesses the conduct of free, fair and peaceful elections in 2019.”

Buhari is in the Netherlands to participate in activities to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), at The Hague.

President Buhari in a group photo with Judges of the Criminal Court ahead of his Keynote address at the 20th Anniversary of the International Criminal Court (ICC) at the Hague, Netherlands on 17th July 2018.Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, in a statement on Tuesday, stated that Buhari also called on the States Parties to support the International Court with jurisdiction over serious cases of corruption and illicit financial flows by state actors.

“A strong and effective ICC has the potential to send a powerful message about the international community’s commitment to accountability, a message that will be heard by both victims and perpetrators. Equally, a strong and effective ICC demonstrates the international community’s commitment to the rule of law.

“A strong and effective ICC can also act as a catalyst for other justice efforts, expanding the reach of accountability. These could include serious cases of corruption by state actors that severely compromise the development efforts of countries and throw citizens into greater poverty,” Buhari said.

READ ALSO: What President Buhari Told Netherlands PM

He added that, as the African Union Champion on Anti-corruption, issues relating to cases of illicit financial flows where countries are complicit and obstruct repatriation of stolen assets are dear to his heart.

The President also appreciated the judges of the Court for electing ‘‘a cherished son of Nigeria’’ as President.

‘‘Let me start by congratulating you, Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji, on your election as President of the International Criminal Court, and also thank the judges of the Court for electing you, a cherished son of Nigeria. Nigeria is very proud of you, Mr President,’’ he said.

President Buhari is the only President invited to grace the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the ICC Rome Statute.

Over 25 high-level state officials, the President of the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute, O-Gon Kwon, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, ICC Registrar Peter Lewis, UN Legal Counsel Miguel de Serpa Soares, and other special guests, attended the event.

President Buhari Departs Abuja For Netherlands

File photo

 

President Muhammadu Buhari has departed Abuja, for the Netherlands.

The President will be away to participate in activities to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), at The Hague.

His Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, said this in a statement on Saturday.

The statement also noted that President Buhari is the only world leader invited to deliver a keynote address at the event which commemorates the anniversary at Courtroom 1 of the ICC’s Headquarters at The Hague.

“In buttressing Nigeria’s commitment as a member of the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute of the ICC, the President, as the current anti-corruption champion for the African Union, will use the global platform to reaffirm Nigeria’s support to the fundamental values of the Rome Statute and to the ideals of the ICC.

“He will also highlight his administration’s campaign against corruption in Nigeria,” the statement read in part.

After the event at the Courtroom, President Buhari is expected to have a bilateral meeting with the ICC Prosecutor, Ms Fatou Bensouda and attend a dinner to be hosted by Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji, the President of the ICC, who is a Nigerian.

The President is also scheduled to meet with the Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Mark Rutte, to discuss bilateral issues such as migration, peace and security, and economic cooperation.

Along with his delegation President Buhari will also have a round-table with some Dutch Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of companies based in Nigeria.

The delegation includes Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State; Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu of Ondo State; the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama; the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami.

Furthermore, the President is expected to tour the Port of Rotterdam and Shell refinery Pernis, Hoogvliet after which he will sign a Memorandum of Understanding on bilateral consultations with the Netherlands government.

Nigeria’s Eboe-Osuji Emerges President, International Criminal Court

President International Criminal Court (ICC), Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji. (Photo Credit: ICC-CPI)

 

The judges of the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Sunday elected Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji as President of the court.

The Imo State-born judge was elected during a plenary session by the judges.

He is expected to be President of the Court for three-year term tenure and his emergence takes immediate effect.

Eboe-Osuji was elected alongside Judge Robert Fremr (Czech Republic) who was elected First Vice-President and Judge Marc Perrin de Brichambaut (France) Second Vice-President.

The announcement was which was available made in a statement posted on ICC website on Sunday stated that the Presidency, consisting of the President and the two Vice-Presidents, plays the key role in providing strategic leadership to the ICC as a whole.

Eboe-Osuji, the statement read further expressed deep appreciation for his election to the honourable position.

“I am deeply honoured to have been elected by my peers as President of the International Criminal Court. As I take up my duties, I feel encouraged that I am able to rely on the wide experience of the two Vice-Presidents, Judge Robert Fremr and Judge Marc Perrin de Brichambaut, both of whom I have closely worked with previously.

I look forward to working together with them as well as with all the judges, all the officials and the staff of the Court in a spirit of collegiality.

“I also look forward to collaborating with the Assembly of States Parties, civil society and the international community at large, acting together to strengthen and reinforce the Rome Statute system, the 20th anniversary of the adoption of which we celebrate this year”, President Chile Eboe-Osuji stated following the election,” Eboe-Osuji said.

This is the first time a Nigerian would be elected as the President of ICC.

Meanwhile, Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama has congratulated Eboe-Osuji in a tweet using his official Twitter handle @GeoffreyOnyeama.

Burundi Becomes First Nation To Leave ICC

 

Burundi on Friday became the first ever nation to leave the International Criminal Court, set up some 15 years ago to prosecute those behind the world’s worst atrocities.

“Burundi’s withdrawal from the Rome Statute will take effect on Friday, 27 October 2017,” an ICC spokesperson told AFP.

The move comes exactly a year after Bujumbura officially notified the United Nations that it was quitting the world’s only permanent war crimes tribunal, in what was seen as a major blow to international justice.

“The decision to withdraw Burundi from the Rome Statute comes at a time when the machine continues to kill with impunity in Burundi,” said Lambert Nigarura, president of the Burundi coalition for the ICC.

“Today, Burundian justice, as it is so-called, has lost contact with life. It has become a mere tool of repression of any dissenting voice,” he added in a statement.

But ICC officials said a preliminary probe launched by the prosecutor in April 2016 into possible crimes against humanity in the central African nation would continue.

“Burundi’s withdrawal does not affect the jurisdiction of the court with respect to crimes alleged to have been committed during the time it was a state party, namely up until 27 October 2017,” the spokesperson told AFP.

– Violent political crisis –

The initial probe was started by ICC chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda following reports of “killing, imprisonment, torture, rape and other forms of sexual violence, as well as cases of enforced disappearances.”

The reports came amid a violent political crisis triggered when President Pierre Nkurunziza ran for a third term in office, winning July 2015 elections which were boycotted by the opposition.

UN investigators last month urged the ICC to move forwards and open a full scale investigation saying they had “reasonable grounds to believe that crimes against humanity have been committed” in “a systematic attack against the civilian population”.

Overall, the violence in Burundi has claimed between 500 and 2,000 lives, according to differing tolls provided by the UN or NGOs and more than 400,000 Burundians have fled abroad.

Set up in 2002, the ICC based in The Hague has often come under fire from some countries who claim it is unfairly targeting African nations.

The ICC now has 123 member states who have ratified the 1998 Rome Statute, the guidelines which underpin the work of the tribunal.

But Burundi’s snub triggered a wave of copy-cat moves from other African countries.

South Africa and Gambia said they would both follow suit, before then later reversing their decisions. And Kenya and Uganda have also threatened to leave, but not acted on it yet.

Zambia meanwhile has held public consultations, with an overwhelming 93 percent of those who participated opting to stay within the court.

AFP

SERAP Asks Buhari To Refer High-Profile Corruption Cases To ICC

Alleged Corruption: SERAP Writes Buhari Over SGF's CaseAs the Nigerian government’s anti-graft war continues to draw reactions, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), has asked the President, Muhammadu Buhari, to refer high level official corruption cases to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

A statement released on Sunday, by the agency’s Deputy Director, Timothy Adewale, stated that the measure would improve deterrence and show commitment in confronting grand corruption.

Mr Adewale further noted that referring corruption cases to the ICC should be part of a strategy to require a fundamental reform of Nigeria’s criminal justice system.

“As a state party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, the government should also consider drawing from the expertise, experience, and international best practices of the court to complement the mandates and powers of our anti-corruption agencies and judiciary to successfully and satisfactorily investigate, prosecute and hear high-profile corruption cases.

“The latest setbacks in the prosecution of high-profile corruption cases show the need for effective enforcement measures to weed out, expose, and punish grand corruption in the country. Referring large-scale corruption cases to the International Criminal Court would in the short-medium term improve deterrence, and at the minimum demonstrate a symbolic commitment to confront grand corruption head on.

“Referral to the ICC should be considered as a stop-gap measure, and as part of an all-embracing strategy that would inevitably require a fundamental reform of the criminal justice system and the strengthening and empowerment of the country’s anti-corruption agencies.

“SERAP argues that corruption by high-ranking officials and their families and associates is an international crime, especially given the sheer amounts of national wealth involved, and the devastating effects of such plundering, including political instability, weak rule of law, and destruction of the country’s economy.

“Without effective investigation and prosecution of high-ranking public officials charged with corruption, and a judiciary that is willing and able to satisfactorily play its own interpretative role, this government’s fight against corruption may sadly turn out to be all motion and no movement, and this will eventually undermine the legitimacy of the anti-corruption efforts,” the organisation stated.

SERAP also advocated that more training be provided to those charged with the task of investigating and prosecuting large-scale corruption.

“SERAP believes that radical and more robust criminal enforcement measures are necessary to appreciably improve anti-corruption efforts, by equipping, empowering and providing opportunities for training and re-training of those charged with the investigation and prosecution of large-scale corruption so that they can fearlessly, impartially, efficiently and energetically enforce anti-corruption laws and ensure justice for the countless victims of corruption in the country.

“It should not be the case that only petty offenders are successfully prosecuted while high profile corrupt officers escape punishment and justice. Prosecuting the ‘small fry’ and leaving the ‘big fish’ to go unpunished would send a particularly damaging message about the government’s commitment to end large-scale official corruption, legitimize offenders’ impunity, and clearly violate the underlying legal and moral assumptions that a govern­ment will treat all persons equally, fairly, and with respect.

“Effectively prosecuting high-ranking officials would help to persuade foreign jurisdictions keeping stolen public funds, and facilitate international cooperation and assistance that may lead to the recovery of such assets.

“Efforts must also be intensified to apply stronger preventive measures to ensure that Nigerians are informed of the dangers of corruption. By ensuring that the Nigerian public views grand corruption with a ‘human face,’ the public may be more likely to build a united front and demand change from their leaders, which, in turn, would gradually strengthen Nigeria’s political will to end the problem. This is the surest way to help keep Nigeria fair, just, stable and prosperous.

“As the situation in the country has shown, corruption is costly to good governance, human rights and national development, and leads to erosion of confidence in good governance, rule of law and economic stability.

“SERAP argues that grand corruption in the country violates fundamental human values, and the values protected by international human rights law, as well as negates the doctrine of fiduciary relations that obligate public officers to faithfully perform the duties of their office, and to preserve state property.”

President Buhari Heads To The Gambia For ECOWAS Mediation Mission

President Buhari Heads To The Gambia For ECOWAS Mediation MissionPresident Muhammadu Buhari will travel to Banjul, the capital of The Gambia and Bamako, the Malian capital from January 13 to 14, 2017.

Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, disclosed this in a statement on Thursday.

In Banjul, President Buhari, as the Mediator in The Gambia, is scheduled to meet with President Yahya Jammeh of The Gambia and the President-elect Adama Barrow to continue dialogue on the political situation in the West African country.

The President will be joined by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia and Chairperson of the Authority of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government, President Ernest Koroma of Sierra Leone, and the immediate past President of Ghana, John Mahama, who is the co-mediator of The Gambian mission.

Later on January 13, President Buhari will travel to Bamako, Mali to participate in the 27th Africa–France Summit.

The Summit for Partnership, Peace and Emergence, convened by French President Francois Hollande, is aimed at strengthening cooperation between France and African countries in the areas of peace and security, economic partnership and development.

Recognising the role played by France in the successes so far recorded in the implementation of the regional initiative against terrorism, President Buhari will reaffirm Nigeria’s commitment to global efforts on the war against terror and underline the need for improved collaboration to address the menace of terrorism in the region.

President Buhari will use the opportunity of the summit to underscore the efforts government is making to improve Nigeria’s business environment to attract more foreign direct investment.

The President will be accompanied by Governors Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto State and Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Interior and Defence.

Gambian Minister ‘Quits In Protest’ Amid Political Impasse

Gambian Minister 'Quits In Protest' Amid Political ImpasseThe Gambia’s Information Minister Sheriff Bojang has resigned to protest President Yahya Jammeh’s refusal to accept defeat in December’s presidential election.

In a statement, he said that efforts to contest the results are “an attempt to subvert the express will” of the Gambian people.

The state television however reported that Mr Bojang had been sacked.

“The Gambia has decided and we must accept and respect this decision,” he said, quoting a popular poster slogan which has been effaced by soldiers in the capital Banjul in recent weeks.

Bojang confirmed the authenticity of the statement to Reuters via telephone from neighboring Senegal.

The minister made headlines in October by announcing that Gambia intended to leave the International Criminal Court, calling it the “International Caucasian Court”.

Jammeh’s opponents hope Bojang’s departure might signal further departures from among allies within the country who retain control of the army and other state institutions.

This comes after the UN Security Council has called on President Jammeh to step down.

He initially accepted that opposition leader Adama Barrow won the election, but then reversed his decision, citing electoral “abnormalities”.

Foreign Minister Neneh Macdouall Gaye resigned in December, though her decision attracted little publicity.

Many officials and businessmen have fled the country, fearing a crackdown by the former lieutenant who seized power at aged 29 in a 1994 coup and is accused by rights groups of jailing and killing his critics.

South Africa Set To Leave International Criminal Court

Zuma, al-Bashir
The failure of South Africa to arrest the Sudanese President has been a knotty issue in African politics.

South Africa has begun the legal process of formally withdrawing from the Roman Statute setting up the International Criminal Court.

If it formally withdraws from the statute, it means the country would no longer be bound to the International Criminal Court.

In the ‘Instrument of Withdrawal’ signed South Africa’s Foreign Minister, Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, states that South Africa “has found that its obligations with respect to the peaceful resolution of conflicts at times are incompatible with the interpretation given by the International Criminal Court of obligations contained in the Rome Statute.”

Under that statute, South Africa is obligated to arrest anyone sought by the tribunal.

The United Nations spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, is however yet to confirm if  the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon has received the notice of withdrawal from South Africa.

al-Bashir Brouhaha

South Africa is exiting the ICC after a controversial visit by Sudanese president Omar al-Bashir, who was wanted by the tribunal over allegations of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.

President al-Bashir in June 2015 was in Johannesburg to attend an African Union summit but the South African government refused to arrest him.

During the visit, provincial court has ruled that the Sudanese president remains in the country while judges considered whether he should be arrested on the ICC warrants.

President al-Bashir left for Khartoum before the court ruled that he should be arrested.

South Afica’s Supreme Court of Appeal later ruled that the government’s refusal o arrest President al-Bashir was a “disgraceful conduct”.

The International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda insists President al-Bashir as a sitting president, directed a campaign of mass killing, rape, and looting against civilians in Darfur.

The charges against the Sudanese president follow the unrest in the Darfur region which started in 2003.

The United Nations said 300,000 people died in the conflict while 2.7 million people were displaced.