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Nigerian nominee, Bello ranks low amongst contenders for ICC job


The International Criminal Court, pictured in The Hague, Netherlands / Martijn Beekman (ANP/AFP/File)

The Chief Judge of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) nominated by President Muhammadu Buhari for the position of judge at the International Criminal Court (ICC) may not be selected because he ranked low among the 20 contenders selected for the position.

President Buhari had nominated Bello for the job in June 2020. However, in a report of the advisory committee on the nomination of judges, the ICC said Bello lacked knowledge of the workings of the court.


Although the FCT CJ has a Master’s degree in International Criminal Law from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, “where his dissertation was on the topic of individual criminal responsibility under the Rome Statute,” the ICC noted that, “the candidate appeared notably to have very limited knowledge of the Rome Statute, the practices, and procedures of the court and its jurisprudence.”

“Based on both his professional experience as well as his answers during the interview, and bearing in mind particularly his lack of detailed knowledge of the workings of the court, the committee concluded that the candidate was only formally qualified for appointment as a judge of the International Criminal Court,” the report read.

Owing to the COVID -19 pandemic, the committee had conducted virtual interviews between August 12 and August 28 for all the nominees. Out of 20 candidates, 10 were ranked “highly qualified”, three were “qualified” while seven including Bello were “formally qualified”.

Only six judges will be elected to fill in one-third of the court’s 18 judicial seats.

The ICC, which began operation on July 1, 2002, sits at The Hague, Netherlands. The court, however, lacks universal territorial jurisdiction, and may only investigate and prosecute crimes committed within member states, nationals of member states, or crimes in situations referred to the court by the United Nations Security Council.


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