President Goodluck Jonathan Tuesday in Abuja assured the President of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Mr. Sang-Hyun Song that Nigeria was not considering withdrawing from the jurisdiction of the Court.
Speaking at an audience with Mr. Song, President Jonathan said, however, that while Nigeria still maintains its endorsement and commitment to the guiding principles and objectives of the ICC, it wanted urgent action to address the current concerns of African leaders over the operations of the court.
The President told the ICC President that Nigeria and the African Union will work with the United Nations and the Assembly of ICC State Parties to achieve a review of sections of the ICC’s Rome Statutes, including those that deny the deferment of cases against sitting heads of state and government with definite tenures.
“Nigeria freely signed up for the ICC because we believe in its objectives and the reduction of crimes of impunity. We believe in doing what is right, but we also think that the ICC and other stakeholders need to take greater cognizance of the challenges African leaders are facing. We are not thinking of pulling out, but we will work with others to strengthen and reform the ICC.
“Leaders with definite tenures should not be distracted from doing the work their people freely elected them to do. Courts should solve problems, not compound them. Let us look at the ICC’s legal instruments and modify them to address the concerns of Nigeria and the African Union,” President Jonathan told Mr. Song.
The President of the ICC congratulated President Jonathan on Nigeria’s recent election to the United Nations Security Council.
Mr. Song also commended President Jonathan’s statement to the United Nations General Assembly in September, saying that the President’s stance on human rights, the rule of law, peace, security, democracy and political stability were very much in line with the ideals the ICC was established to promote.
“We are not far from each other. We are trying to achieve the same goals,” the ICC President said.
He assured President Jonathan that the African Union’s current concerns over the courts operations could be resolved with further dialogue and consultations.
Reuben Abati, Special Adviser to the President (Media & Publicity)