The Nigeria Civil Society Situation Room (Situation Room) welcomes the statement by the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Fatou Bensouda on ICC’s preparedness and willingness to observe the electoral process in Nigeria.
We are particularly encouraged by the Prosecutor Bensouda’s comment that “No one should doubt my resolve, whenever necessary, to prosecute individuals responsible for the commission of ICC crimes”. The ICC by this comment is being proactive and progressive in supporting a climate of peace in Nigeria ahead of the elections. Coming on the heels of irresponsible and inciteful utterances by various political actors in Nigeria, the ICC is putting Nigerians on notice that conducts which trigger commission of mass crimes will not go unpunished. This comment also affirms the ICC’s commitment to hold to account and prosecute all persons involved in subverting the conduct of free and fair elections in Nigeria and we believe it include officers who take on cases and issue judgments on the elections that subvert the constitutionally guaranteed powers and independence of INEC.
The Situation Room raises concern about the multiplicity of court cases on multiple issues apparently instigated and contrived by persons intent on disrupting the holding of elections already scheduled by INEC for February 14th and 28th 2015. While Situation Room welcomes the right of all persons to seek judicial intervention to protect their rights, it places on record that any attempt to use the courts to disrupt the elections might lead to unimaginable negative consequences such as upheaval that could result in violence across the country.
The Situation Room sees this call by the ICC as a lesson for the Nigeria judiciary. There are many allegations of effort by political interests to undermine the legitimacy of the Judiciary or to exploit the judiciary for selfish ends. We call on the Judiciary to defend its integrity at this time and ensure that any ruling or orders coming from it is rooted in impeccable constitutional grounds and must be for the greater good. The Judiciary should not allow itself to play again in Nigeria history the ignoble role it played in 1993, that led to that year’s election impasse. It is important to mention that any act of judicial rascality that plunges this country into violence and mass destruction opens such a judicial officer up for war crimes charges.
The Situation Room will be monitoring and documenting all acts capable of triggering violence in Nigeria and will work with local and international groups to ensure accountability. The Situation Room will also pursue and work with the ICC to bring to account and prosecution at the ICC, all persons including judicialofficers who use the instrumentality of the courts to provoke violence and national crisis that lead to killings and mass unrest.
The Situation Room is made up of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) working in support of credible and transparent elections in Nigeria and includes such groups as Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC), CLEEN Foundation, Action Aid Nigeria, Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD), Enough is Enough Nigeria, Wangonet, Partners for Electoral Reform and Youth Initiative for Advocacy, Growth & Advancement (YIAGA). Others are Development Dynamics, Human Rights Monitor, Election Monitor, Reclaim Naija, Institute for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, CITAD, CISLAC and several other CSOs numbering more than Sixty.