2015 Polls: International Criminal Court Warns Against Electoral Violence

The International Criminal Court, ICC, The Hague, has warned that any persons or groups found instigating or perpetrating act of violence in the run-up and after the forthcoming general elections in Nigeria will be prosecuted.

Reacting to reports of violence and public threats of violence in some states in the run-up to the polls, the Prosecutor of the ICC, Fatou Bensouda, has warned that the Rome Statute, to which Nigeria is a signatory, confers jurisdiction to the court over crimes committed in Nigeria or against Nigerians.

“Any person who incites or engages in acts of violence including by ordering, requesting, encouraging or contributing in any other manner to the commission of crimes within ICC’s jurisdiction is liable to prosecution either by Nigerian Courts or by ICC. No one should doubt my resolve, whenever necessary, to prosecute individuals responsible for the commission of ICC crimes,” Bensouda said in a statement.

Several incidents of violence have been recorded across states in the build-up to the elections.

In Rivers State, supporters of the APC presidential candidate Muhammadu Buhari were attacked with guns in January, leaving several people critically wounded. In the weeks that followed, at least two campaign offices belonging to the APC in Rivers State were reportedly bombed.

The electioneering convoy of the President Goodluck Jonathan has also been stoned in Katsina, Bauchi, Adamawa and Yobe states, while  a Peoples Democratic Party campaign bus was burnt in Jos, capital of Plateau State.

The ICC cautioned that measures should be taken to prevent outbreaks of violent acts, since it is already known that electioneering creates a tense and volatile environment.






     

     

    “Experience has shown that electoral competition, if taken too far, can give rise to violence and in the worst case scenarios, even trigger the commission of mass crimes that ‘shock the conscience of humanity,” he said.

    The ICC prosecutor encouraged the political leaders and presidential candidates to abide by the precepts of the peace pact that they have signed, pledging themselves, their parties and supporters to eschew violent acts during the election period.

    The peace pact, now commonly referred to as Abuja Peace Pact, in which political leaders committed to working towards a violence-free election, was facilitated by former Secretary general of the Commonwealth, Emeka Anyaoku, and former United Nations Secretary General, Kofi Annan.

    President Goodluck Jonathan, Muhammadu Buhari, and twelve other presidential candidates signed the pact in December 2014.

     

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