Statement of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Fatou Bensouda, ahead of the general and state elections in Nigeria
On 14 and 28 February 2015, Nigerians are set to participate in general and state elections in the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Nigerian presidential candidates and political leaders recently signed a pact committing themselves, their parties and their followers to refrain from violence before, during and after these elections. I urge them to consolidate this commitment.
At a time when abhorrent levels of violence already plague parts of the country, I recall that the International Criminal Court (ICC) has jurisdiction over Rome Statute crimes committed on the territory of Nigeria or by Nigerian nationals from 1 July 2002 onwards. Crimes under the jurisdiction of the ICC have already been committed in this context, as reflected in my Office's preliminary examination report published in December 2014. Further analysis is on-going to determine the next steps that my Office should take in accordance with its duties under the Rome Statute.
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." 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.
A team from my Office will be present in Nigeria prior to the elections to further engage with the authorities and encourage the prevention of crimes.