Statement: 27 March 2024

Statement of the ICC Office of the Prosecutor at the conclusion of Deputy Prosecutor Mame Mandiaye Niang’s official visit to Abuja, Nigeria

Statement of the ICC Office of the Prosecutor at the conclusion of Deputy Prosecutor Mame Mandiaye Niang’s official visit to Abuja, Nigeria

The Deputy Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (“ICC” or the “Court”), Mr Mame Mandiaye Niang, conducted an official visit to Abuja, Nigeria from 19 to 22 March 2024. The mission followed the visit of ICC Prosecutor Karim A.A. Khan KC to Nigeria in April 2022 and his further meeting with the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Lateef Olasunkanmi Fagbemi SAN, on the margins of the 22nd session of the Assembly of State Parties to the Rome Statute in December 2023 in New York.

This visit, which aimed to deepen the Office’s engagement and dialogue with the Nigerian authorities since the conclusion of the preliminary examination in the situation in Nigeria in 2020, provided Deputy Prosecutor Niang an opportunity to hold constructive meetings with the relevant Nigerian authorities and institutions, the diplomatic community and civil society organisations (CSOs).

In particular, Deputy Prosecutor Niang held meetings with the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, H.E. Ambassador Yusuf Maitama Tuggar (OON), and the Chief of Defence Staff, General Christopher Gwabin Musa. Discussions focused on the status and progress made by the national authorities to genuinely address accountability regarding the alleged crimes attributed to Boko Haram and its splinter groups, and members of the Armed Forces of Nigeria in the context of the Nigerian situation.

In his meeting with the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Deputy Prosecutor Niang welcomed the commitment to ensure Nigeria’s continued cooperation with the Office of the Prosecutor, noting the clear statement that Nigeria is determined to close the impunity gap, and to demonstrate that Nigeria is willing and able to meet its obligations under the Rome Statute. 

Deputy Prosecutor Niang also noted and welcomed the commitment from the Minister of Foreign Affairs to ensure that Nigerian national authorities will continue to work closely with the ICC so that perpetrators are brought to account where found responsible for committing crimes.  In his meeting with the Chief of Defence Staff, the Deputy Prosecutor again welcomed commitments to cooperation as well as focus placed on enhancing training of the Armed Forces with the assistance of relevant partners.

Deputy Prosecutor Niang stated, “I’m grateful to the Nigerian authorities for the frank and open dialogue on accountability relating to alleged crimes in the situation attributed to the military and armed groups. I welcome the expression of willingness and ability by the Nigerian authorities to take their full responsibility as regards the alleged criminal conduct the Office has identified. The Office recognises the continued efforts of national authorities in addressing these crimes as demonstrated by the information on relevant proceedings they have provided the Office since the conclusion of the preliminary examination.”

“We welcome these developments and the firm commitment of the Nigerian authorities to close impunity gaps and to explore every possible avenue to deliver justice closer to the victims and affected communities. In light of the actions taken so far and the commitment to deepen collaboration with the Office, we will continue to monitor any progress regarding national proceedings and we will seek to give a chance to the principle of complementarity in Nigeria. Complementarity is at the heart of the ICC Rome Statute: the Office will continue to engage with the authorities with a view to accelerating accountability efforts at the national level and strengthen its cooperation with national authorities, CSOs and all other relevant partners,” Deputy Prosecutor Niang added.

Deputy Prosecutor Niang also met with the Executive Secretary and CEO of the National Human Rights Commission (“NHRC”), Mr Tony Ojukwu, to follow up on the Office’s request for information and exchanges with respect to allegations of crimes reported by Reuters in 2022. Mr Ojukwu and his team briefed Deputy Prosecutor Niang on the status of the investigative activities undertaken by the NHRC on this matter and the related challenges. He indicated the Commission’s intention to publish the dedicated special independent investigation panel’s findings regarding the allegations made by Reuters in the coming months.

The Deputy Prosecutor and his delegation conducted informative meetings with the diplomatic community including representatives of the member States of the European Union and its Delegation, and the US Embassy. Among others, the situation in Nigeria, accountability efforts and opportunities for increasing support to the Nigerian military and civilian judicial authorities to strengthen their capacities were discussed. The European Union members reiterated their unwavering support for the ICC and their readiness to continue their collaboration on matters of common interest.

In his meeting with Nigerian and international CSOs, Deputy Prosecutor Niang provided an overview of the discussions between the Office and the Nigerian authorities, and the Office’s approach to complementarity. The Deputy Prosecutor reiterated the commitment of the Office to continue engaging with CSOs, the Nigerian authorities, and other relevant partners in full transparency. He noted that the Office, while giving a chance to the principle of complementarity in Nigeria, remains committed to move forward with investigations in the absence of genuine efforts by Nigerian authorities.

Source: Office of the Prosecutor | Contact: [email protected]