- Nigeria Didn’t Invite Bashir – Presidency
The United Kingdom today slammed cNigeria for hosting the Sudanese President Omar Al Bashir in spite of the International Criminal Court (ICC) warrant for his arrest over his alleged criminal offence, a situation which the Nigerian government has denied, saying that Bashir was not in the country on his own due to AU Summit.
UK Minister for Africa, , Mark Simmonds said: “The UK has a strong and abiding bilateral relationship with Nigeria. I am therefore disappointed that Nigeria has chosen to host President Al Bashir of Sudan at an African Union event, despite International Criminal Court (ICC) arrest warrants against him for alleged war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.”
Speaking further he said; “This undermines the work of the ICC and sends the victims a dismaying message that the accountability they are waiting for will be delayed further. The British Government takes seriously its obligations as a State Party to the Rome Statute and consistently urges other State Parties in all parts of the world to do the same.”
However, the spokesperson for President Jonathan, Reuben Abati, said: “Nigeria is just hosting the Summit. It’s not Nigeria that invited him. He’s not here on a bilateral visit. He’s here to participate in an AU summit, and Nigeria is not in a position to determine who attends an AU event and who does not attend an AU event … Nigeria is just providing the platform for the meeting.”
It is on record that ICC in 2009 and 2010 issued two warrants against Bashir over the conflict in Sudan’s Darfur region, where government forces and local Arab militias have been pitted against rebels drawn mainly from non-Arab populations. In 2008, the United Nations estimated that 300,000 people had died because of the conflict, but Khartoum disputes the figure.
Since Nigeria is a member of the ICC, it technically has a legal obligation to arrest suspects wanted by the court.
Some African Union members and officials have criticised the Bashir indictments, and the body has passed a resolution calling on members not to cooperate with the warrants.
The court has been accused of unfairly targeting Africans and some have argued that the arrest warrants against Bashir complicate peace efforts.
Bashir has previously visited ICC member states, including Chad, Djibouti and Kenya, but countries like South Africa and Botswana have ensured he stay away.
Human Rights Watch has said the AU resolution to ignore the warrants has “no bearing on Nigeria’s obligations as an ICC member.”
Hosting Bashir is an “affront to victims” of the Darfur conflict, said Elise Keppler of the International Justice Program at Human Rights Watch.