By Isaac Aregbesola
Nigeria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the Federal Government has resolved to remain with the International Criminal Court (ICC).
The Spokesman of the ministry, Dr Clement Aduku, clarified the Federal Government stand in Abuja on Wednesday.
Aduku said Nigeria’s stand on the issue as explained by the Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama, has not changed.
The African Union had in January during plenary at the 28th AU Summit in Addis Ababa called for collective withdrawal of its members from the Court.
The summit argued that African countries were not fairly treated by the court, hence members should withdraw.
Onyeama said Nigeria did not subscribe to strategy adopted by AU for collective withdrawal from the ICC.
The minister said that when the issue came up during a meeting, several countries kicked against it.
According to him, Nigeria and others believe that the court has an important role to play in holding leaders accountable, hence Nigeria fully stands by it.
“Nigeria is not the only voice against it; in fact, Senegal is speaking very strongly against it. Cape Verde and other countries are also against it.
“What AU did was to set up a committee to elaborate a strategy for collective withdrawal.
“After, Senegal took the floor, Nigeria took the floor, Cape Verde and some other countries made it clear that they were not going to subscribe to that decision,” he said.
Onyeama said that a number of countries also took the floor to request for more time to study it before acceding.
He said Zambia, Tanzania, Liberia, Botswana and a host of others were not willing to withdraw from the court.
While faulting AU’s position on ICC, Onyeama stressed that each individual country willingly acceded to the 1998 Rome Statue on the setting up of the court.
“Each country freely and willingly acceded to the Treaty and not all of the members of the AU acceded; each country acceded individually, exercising its own sovereign right.
“So, if each country wants to withdraw, it has the right to do that individually.’
“AU, which was not a party to the Rome Statute that established the court, should not be developing a strategy for a collective withdrawal for something that each country entered into individually.
“Those who feel they want to withdraw should do that individually,” Onyeama said.
NAN reports that three African states in 2016 publicly declared their intention to withdraw from the court in what seemed to be a continental domino effect.
The countries are Burundi, South Africa and The Gambia, with reports that Namibia, Kenya and Uganda were contemplating withdrawing from the ICC
The court has been repeatedly criticised by African states as an inefficient, neo-colonial institution of the Western powers to try African countries.
This argument is supported by the fact that nine of the 10 situations under investigation, with three others under preliminary investigations, involve African countries.
African state, which are parties to the Rome Statute make up the biggest regional membership, comprising 34 of the 124 members.
From 2009, some African countries have called for collective withdrawal from the ICC.