The International Criminal Court, ICC, said it would investigate allegations of incitement against the First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, The Cable, an online newspaper reported yesterday. The decision to investigate and possibly prosecute the First Lady followed a petition submitted to the ICC by All Progressives Congress Presidential Campaign Organization, APCPCO.
The Director-General of the APCPCO, Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State had last week signed the petition against the First Lady, alleging incitement during her recent campaign speeches in some sections of the country. Following the petition, The Cable had sought confirmation from the Office of The Prosecutor, OTP, at the ICC over the issue.
The OTP in its confirmation of the petition claimed to have formally received the petition and would consider it within the ambits of the law. It said: "Under Article 15 of the Rome Statute, the Prosecutor of the ICC may receive information on crimes within the jurisdiction on the Court (also called 'communications')," The Cable quoted the OTP to have said.
It said: "With regards to your enquiry, the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court can confirm receipt of the communication referred to since the sender of the communication has made this fact public in the media. "The Office will give consideration to this communication, as appropriate, in accordance with the provisions of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, as it does with all such communications."
The online medium had also quoted the United Kingdom branch of APC to have also confirmed receipt and adoption of the petition. "The ICC, based in The Hague, has sent confirmation to APC-UK, that an investigation will begin against Mrs Jonathan, who repeatedly called for the stoning of opposition APC members as captured in the videos released earlier this month," the party was quoted to have said.
The criminal case investigation ICC reference number is: OTP-CR-83/15," it added. Mrs. Jonathan has drawn mixed reactions on some of her statements, including statements urging supporters to stone anyone that comes to preach change to them. Also yesterday, Fatou Bensouda, prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, had in a statement affirmed that Nigerians, who provoke violence ahead of, during and after the elections could be liable to sanctions from the ICC.
He said: "Following my statement of February 2, and my Office's subsequent visit to Nigeria from of February 3 to 5, I reiterate my previous message. "At a time when abhorrent levels of violence already plague parts of the country, I recall that the International Criminal Court ('ICC' or the 'Court') has jurisdiction over Rome Statute crimes committed on the territory of Nigeria.
"Any person who incites or engages in acts of violence in the context of the upcoming elections or otherwise-- including by ordering, inciting, encouraging or contributing to the commission of crimes that fall within ICC's jurisdiction-- is liable to prosecution; "Either by Nigerian courts or by the ICC. No one should doubt my Office's resolve to prosecute individuals responsible for the commission of ICC crimes, whenever necessary.
"Violence is not a solution. The conduct and outcome of elections in Nigeria, free from violence, will not only prevent further instability in the country, but will also send a clear message that electoral competition does not have to result in violence and crimes that shock the conscience of humanity."