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Politicians will be tried for aiding violence, says ICC


legal-picWITH the general elections approaching, the Prosecutor, International Criminal Court (ICC), Fatou Bensouda,‎ yesterday renewed the commitment to drag any Nigerian politician indicted of aiding violence to the Hague, Netherlands, for trial.

In a statement released by the prosecutor, she urged Nigerian politicians and leaders to refrain from inciting their followers into violence owing to electioneering reasons.

The statement reads:‎ “Following my statement of 2nd February, 2015, and my office’s subsequent visit to Nigeria from the 3rd to 5th of February, I reiterate my previous message.

“At a time when abhorrent levels of violence already plague parts of the country, I recall that the International Criminal Court (“ICC” or the “Court’”) has jurisdiction over Rome Statute crimes committed on the territory of Nigeria.

“Any person who incites or engages in acts of violence in the context of the upcoming elections or otherwise – including by ordering, inciting, encouraging or contributing to the commission of crimes that fall within ICC’s jurisdiction – is liable to prosecution; either by Nigerian Courts or by the ICC. No one should doubt my office’s resolve to prosecute individuals responsible for the commission of ICC crimes, whenever necessary.

“Violence is not a solution. The conduct and outcome of elections in Nigeria, free from violence, will not only prevent further instability in the country, but will also send a clear message that electoral competition does not have to result in violence and crimes that shock the conscience of humanity.”

Also, an International Relations scholar, Professor Alade Fawole and some clerics have charged government at all tiers and other stakeholders in the country’s electoral project to seek a solution to the violence usually associated with the struggle to attain political power in the country.

Fawole, from the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, Primate Rufus Okikiola Ositelu of Church of the Lord (Aladura) and Ogun State Chairman of the Christian Council of Nigeria, Bishop S.G Kuponu, who expressed deep concern about the number of innocent lives and millions of naira property lost to political violence, especially during campaigns, blamed this on what they described as the culture of winner takes all.

The trio who spoke in Lagos at the weekend at a lecture titled, “2015 Election, Reflections and Way Forward”, organised by Rufus Okikiola Ositelu Foundation, agreed that the preparations for the elections, the way they are conducted and how post-elections are handled would have indelible implications for the future of the country and its place in the international community.

Bishop Kuponu, who presided over the occasion, admonished the Christian community to get involved in the electoral process.

Primate Ositelu, while urging Christians in the country to behave as true ambassadors of Christ during the processes to the elections and beyond also charged them to always see fellow Nigerians from other sects as brothers and sisters.

Reflecting on the violence and tension that had greeted processes to the election, especially the campaigns, Professor Fawole urged the stakeholders particularly the leadership of the political parties, to adhere to the non-violence accords, which must guide their campaigns.

He particularly decried the hate campaigns which in his view had become the major tool candidates now use against opponents.

His words, “If we get this election right, it may provide us the greatest opportunity to reshape contemporary Nigeria into the nation that our nationalists fought for and sacrificed to build, but which we have sadly allowed to be mismanaged over the past few decades.

This election, in my view, provides us a unique chance to address some of the fundamentals of our national corporate existence, to begin to set things right, which have been made wrong by crass mis-governance and maladministration for quite some time.”

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