The International Criminal Court, ICC, has warned that it would not take lightly the outbreak of violence during the forthcoming general elections in Nigeria, and has vowed to prosecute persons or groups caught inciting or perpetrating act of violence in the run-up and after the election.
The prosecutor of the ICC, Fatou Bensouda, in a statement, expressed concern over the escalating violence and threat of violence in the run-up to election. She warned that by the Rome Statute, of which Nigeria is a signatory, it has jurisdiction over crimes committed in Nigeria or Nigerians from July 1, 2002 onwards.
“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,” said Mrs Bensouda.
Several observers have suggested that the February elections would be marred by violence. Already there have been reported cases of violent acts.
The convoy of President Goodluck Jonathan was stoned by some irate youth in some northern states last week. Some supporters of the opposition All Progressive Congress, APC, were shot in Port Harcourt and cases of bombing targeted at the APC in the state are increasing.
Some Niger Delta militants, who are close allies of Mr. Jonathan, have also threatened to wage a war upon the rest of the country if the he’s not re-elected.
The ICC said because elections are sometimes volatile and could by the catalyst of widespread violence, measures should be taken to prevent out breaks of violent acts.
“Experience has shown that electoral competition, when gone astray, can give rise to violence and in the worst case scenarios, even trigger the commission of mass crimes that ‘shock the conscience of humanity.’”
It called on presidential candidates and political leaders in the country to consolidate the peace pact they signed to committing themselves, their parties and supporters to refrain from violent acts during the election.
In December 2014, Mr. Jonathan, the APC candidate, Mr. Buhari and 12 other presidential candidates signed a peace pact facilitated by former Secretary general of the Commonwealth, Emeka Anyaoku, and former United Nations Secretary General, Kofi Annan, committing to a violence-free election.