By Sam Eyoboka
A UNITED States-based Nigerian human rights lawyer, Emmanuel Ogebe, who wrote the International Criminal Court, ICC, ahead of President Muhammadu Buhari’s visit to The Hague requesting the court to allow Buhari to respond to various unanswered questions regarding the tensed state of affairs in Nigeria has revealed that contrary to popular belief in the Presidency, the President didn’t meet with the ICC chief prosecutor.
Prior to his visit to Netherlands on July 15, this year, the Special Adviser to the President on Media, Mr. Femi Adesina, had announced that while in the Hague, President Buhari would speak at the Solemn Hearing to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the ICC Rome Statute, adding that the President would also meet with the ICC Prosecutor, Ms Fatou Bensouda.
“He is the only Head of State invited to the ICC’s 20th anniversary and senior Nigeria officials see it as a positive recognition and appreciation of Nigeria’s support to the ideals and objectives of the Court,” Adesina stated.
In a statement made available to Vanguard yesterday, the lawyer acknowledged response of the Chief Prosecutor to memos raising concern over the visit of President Buhari as special guest speaker at the chambers of the ICC. Ogebe said: “In the memos dated July 15 and August 6, I had asked for the minutes of the meeting between Gen Buhari and Chief Prosecutor Bensouda to be publicly disclosed, however, I was advised by the Officer of the Prosecutor, OTP, that Chief Prosecutor Bensouda did not, in fact, have a meeting with Buhari as claimed in the schedule released by the government of Nigeria.”
“Apart from brief greetings, the Chief Prosecutor did not have a private meeting with the Nigerian President. Rather, she did meet with the Attorney General of Nigeria, who is the relevant responding party she interfaces with regarding Nigeria.
“The Chief Prosecutor maintains that her mandate empowers her to engage with national leaders so even if she had met with Gen. Buhari, it would have been in order. She emphasized that her not meeting with Gen. Buhari was not because she lacked the powers so to do or because she was avoiding him.”