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Former Nigerian president criticizes ‘politicized’ ICC


March 17, 2009 (WASHINGTON) — The former Nigerian president Olugun Obasanjo directed criticism at the International Criminal Court (ICC) saying that it is drifting towards politics in its investigations.

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Former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo (Photo: Getty Images)

“When I was President of Nigeria, I supported ICC but I supported ICC – we signed - because we believe that it can serve some good for the world” Obasanjo told Al-Jazeera English TV interview with Sir David Frost to be aired Friday.

“I wonder today whether we have taken the right decision in supporting ICC because some of what I have personally seen, smack of more of politics than criminality and if ICC continues along that line, its repetition will be costly, endangered and undermined” he added.

The Nigerian ex-leader was responding to a question on whether Sudanese president Omer Hassan Al-Bashir should be arrested as demanded by ICC earlier this month.

The ICC judges charged Bashir with seven counts of war crimes and crimes against humanity, which include murder, rape and torture.

African leaders have criticized the move saying it undermines peace efforts in Sudan and also accused the court of being biased against Africans.

All cases currently handled by the ICC are in Africa including Sudan, Uganda, Central African Republic (CAR) and Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

Except for the Darfur case which was referred to by the UN Security Council (UNSC) all other cases were referred voluntarily by their respective states.

Obasanjo suggested in the interview that Bashir should not be held liable for crimes committed in the war ravaged region of Darfur.

“I have been a military leader in the field and I have been a political leader also running the affairs of my country….. For what reason should a political leader who has to fight a war to save his country, be held responsible for the atrocities committed by the soldiers in the field, unless there is conclusive evidence that he have given instruction for those atrocities to be committed?” he asked.

“We all know that the situation in war is not a picnic situation… I fought for Nigerian Civil War…If any of them [soldiers] was found not to have acted according to that code of conduct, should General Gowan in Lagos be arrested or shall I in Port Harcourt be arrested?” Obasanjo added.

He also hinted that the decision to indict Al-Bashir was to satisfy unspecified parties.

“Are these arrests criminal arrests or political arrests that have been recommended and if they are political arrests to satisfy who? And we must watch what we do and what we allow to do” Obasanjo said.

The African Union (AU) has given its full backing to Bashir and yesterday inaugurated a high level panel headed by former president Thabo Mbeki to look into accountability issues in Darfur.

Before the UNSC referred the case to the ICC, Nigeria proposed a regional court but Sudan turned down the proposal.

In 2006 Obasanjo took a rare stance for an African president saying that “genocide” was developing in Darfur.

“It is not in the interest of Sudan, nor in the interest of Africa nor indeed in the interest of the world for us all to stand by and see genocide being developed in Darfur” he told diplomats and AU officials at the pan-African body’s headquarters in Addis Ababa.


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  • 20 March 2009 07:04, by Garang

    Do you African leaders think from their mind or from their asses?

    Dr mr. Abosanjo, your critism for icc here tells me exactly that you are either bribe by Al bashire or you are thinking from your ass that you show to your allah five times a day, to seek for forgiveness. ICC arrest warrent has already been finalised and because you were not bribe earlier to critisize the icc arrest warrant, you waited till you got your bribery. please lay your ass back their in Nigeria and take care of your affairs.

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    • 20 March 2009 14:30, by Logic

      Its amuzing to read such comments as I believe southerners fought for over 50yrs for jusitice and equality which includes freedom of expression but this right that has been hard won is abused by such individuals who cannot accept others opinion or even debate it without resluting to bad language and offensive attitude.

      president Obasanjo is entitled to his opinion especially when he was in a position to deal directly with it’s founders. just because you don’t like what he’s saying you hail abuse at him, where is the freedom of expression which he’s entitled to???

      By the way Obasanjo is a Christian...

      If such a leader questions the motives of the ICC, then you along with the rest of the world should find out why and prove him wrong if you are in disagreement with him. but not through abuse and ignorant statements, learn to debate without insults.

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  • 20 March 2009 07:07, by soldier boy

    i can’t understand African system sometimes !!! how is it works against its people. the mother fucka Al Bashir is a races president and a crimanal of war. how in the hell are you as a president going let your soldiers kill your own people that you are rulling or let them rapes young girls and troture POWs? where in the world is that happen only in Fuckin Africa. In every country there is opposition against the government, but the government have to sitt down with them and solve the problem with out fighting. But i quest that system do not works in get damn Africa then fighting with each other and kill the incense people kids women and elders who a Fuck should blame for that shit? of couse fuckin got damn president who do not know how deal with his own civilian than killing them and rape them.
    ICC do not have any problem to hold against African countries then teaching them how to rule and take care of its people.ICC is protecting incense people specialy kids,women and elders, people who do not know anything about get damn politics.
    God bless ICC for doing great job.
    And let the African leaders who are supporting Al Bashir go to hell.

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    • 20 March 2009 08:23, by maluach madit


      I am telling you what yopur country man told said in 2005 .
      When your first wife Stella died in Spain by the month of October 2005 sunday ,
      there was certain Nigerian who debated that,every thing taken in excess has a negative impact in our bodies and may cause lives prematurely.
      To do or say something beyond the mandated point will have a bad result.

      A successfull leader is the one with justice yet I don,t think you are.

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    • 20 March 2009 14:39, by Logic

      Blah blah blah... You’re so angry! People don’t always agree and the language you use on here does not make you any better than Bashir and his supporters.

      I don’t like Bashir’s government and I never did but I could provide reasonable evidence why this is so without insulting an entire continent. No wonder why Africa is the way it is, because of this sad angry mentality.

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  • 20 March 2009 08:07, by ochan stephen

    Well Mr. Oga Obasenjo You are a retired criminal who will soon go straight to hell or face the ICC before death. The blood of people you killed secretly in Nigeria during your time will be paid soon. I think you are wife died and soon you will follow.
    Nigeria is such a big and rich country in africa with abundant natural resources than Sudan could bribe you.
    let every man face his own problems

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    • 20 March 2009 14:49, by Logic

      You’re on this topic apparently to help the people of Darfur but yet you advise Obasanjo to let every man face his own problem... How ironic!!

      Another case of an ignorant and offensive comment, people when are you going to let reason and wisdom lead your judgement instead of emotions filled with hatred? this is a rhetorical question in case you attempt answering it.

      Very sad indeed.

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  • 20 March 2009 15:02, by Klashenkov

    Russia with Nigeria are all in same boat a gainst this politicized court decision. Russia want reform of the ICC from west control.

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    • 20 March 2009 15:35, by Dinka Aliap Chawul

      Hi.Dear Russian man, i don`t know who gave such a idiot a webside access details,your name is clearly Russians so there`s no way for you to meddles in our internal policies....!!!!! Look at so called Russia your country and their poor records in Europeans history but i dont want to lash-out at Negeria because of its Africans background even when Abasanjo individualisms is too high as a matter finances as a result of him failing to recieve something out of his retirement because of his previous civilians dictatorial regime.

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      • 20 March 2009 20:42, by southern war veteran

        Dear Mr. Logic,

        You are right here. you know people go to schools to learn but all of suddan, they end up dreaming the back of books and knowing what is in side. the mentalities being shown in this forum is exactly the nature of that particular individuals.

        Please you’re also aware that empty drums make too much noice.
        Than Why not them that say Bashir must go to ICC Court go and arrest him??? whose husbands have they nominated to go and arrest him??? Are not those who will arest Bashir be their Husbands and turn them in to Toilet Papers?? What word will you again say ( if I managed to arrest the President of Sudan who are Sudanese to me. This Time no more South Sudan But Sudan. What is your Nationality? Sudanese. Again??? Shame on us to be called Sudanese that time.

        Dear brothers, do not please expose your ignorance in public. think and analyse your words and the situations before vomitting out the thoughrs of your mind.


        Southern War Veteran

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        • 21 March 2009 14:22, by Logic

          Dear Vetran and hero

          Its people like you who have seen the devestation of war and its lasting effect on people.

          Funny enough most Vetrans are always ready to reason when it comes to such sensitive issues but there are some so called educated people living in the West (some in Sudan too) who think only they hold the right to an opinion.

          Yes, I am a Sudanese and was there to witness the historical CPA being signed in Naivasha with great enthusiasm and hope for our country.

          The late Dr Garang along with his comrades decided to give peace a chance, who are we to always negatively criticize this opportunity for peace in a land which has only known war and carnage.

          The ICC is not the best tool to achieve this peace however I would welcome it if president Bashir steps down knowing that things will be very difficult for the average Sudanese if he continues to defy the West. Already many investors are staying away from Sudan and many projects are experiencing delays due to lack of confidence in Sudan’s stability.

          A friend of mine works on development projects in Sudan and have spent the last few weeks meeting with a reputable European firm, to take over from another firm who refused to send its engineers to Sudan because of the poilitical situation even though the project is based in South Sudan, they were not even aware of the semi-independent status of the South. All they told him is that their relevant government ministries are advising them to stay away from Sudan.

          Anyone who thinks this ICC issue is good for Sudan (or South Sudan) is optimistic because it may take years to apprehend Bashir, by that time many vital development projects would have collapsed due to fear and maybe sabotage by the NCP.

          A very good example of this is the Oslo donors conference held in the wake of the CPA with most of the $4bn pledged never paid until this day because of the International community’s insistence of relating the South’s development with peace in Darfur.

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  • 20 March 2009 22:57, by Moses Kuocgoor

    I am astonished that the former President of Nigerian has criticized the ICC decision against AL- Bashir. I don’t think that Bashir had defended the country, he was defending his regime from being overthrown by the Darfur rebels. Bashir must go to court like criminals. There are main important points that will not allow Bashir to rule Sudan.

    1- He favors sharia law which is against non believers, and christians.
    2- Bashir thinks that Sudan is the Arabs country which is not correct as the map defines its location.
    3- Bashir’s regime does not favor freedom of expressions, religions, and transparent democracy in Sudan.
    4- Bashir does not know the rule of law in which the citizens are given rights in the country.
    5- He wants indigenous or native Sudanese to stay out of government.

    All these points and other points I have not mentioned could prevent him to lead the nation. There are many Sudanese who are qualified more than him to rule the nation in a prosperity manner. As he took over through coup, he believes in threatening citizens in order to stop blaming him for the killings he had committed when he took power in Khartoum. Bashir would have been arrested early for the massive killing he had done to the Arab Sudanese in Khartoum.

    I understand that whether the former president has known that issue. There are issues that are canceled due to peace between the north and the south. Dr. Garang would indict Bashir if he was alive because of his poor leadership in Sudan. Mr. former president I hope you remember when Bashir was asked to bring some detainees from Khartoum, he did not even offer one person he had detained as a POW. This defines him as a criminal leader.

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    • 21 March 2009 15:48, by Logic

      Brother Moses

      You make some very valid points but I only have one question for you:

      Name one government (irrespective of how they came to power) who did not fight a group of rebels when faced with rebelion?

      Do I need to mention Musharaf of Pakistan who outsted the democratically elected leader (Nawaz Sharif) but recieved lots of international aid and support to quash the rebels of the Pashtun tribal regions of Northwestern Pakistan, usually labeled as Islamic extremests or hardliners.

      If Bashir would have given the West what they asked for (control of Sudan’s natural resources), we would not be in this position, infact the West would have labeled Bashir a man of peace despite his past atrocities in South Sudan.

      Selective justice is not justice! It is politics.

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  • 21 March 2009 02:56, by buokdeng

    Obasanjo is also drinking from the same cup of blood oil money. Nigerians are never late when there is a fight over the carcasses. They are like vultures. Mr.Obasanjo you should worry about your problems in Nigeria. You are one of the most corrupt generals like your colleague, Bashir. African leaders, former or present never care about the lives of their common people any way.

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    • 21 March 2009 15:24, by Logic

      Here we go again, another ignorant statement...

      Nigerians are like voltures because you don’t like their former president??? How sad are you! why must you insult all Nigerians because of one Nigerian!! closed mindedness never gets us anywhere.

      Mr Obsanjo left office after two terms, isint this the usual model of democracy in countries like the US but yet you want to accuse him of corruption.

      What makes you think he doesn’t worry about Nigerian problems simpley because he expressed an opinion about another African leader. Where do you get your wisdom from??

      You talk about blood oil money, Shell, BP and Texaco are not African companies but they are the ones exploiting Nigerian resources not Obosanjo! please wake up..

      Then you say African leaders don’t care abut their people, another brainwashed African who sees things only through Western Mediaocracy... what happened to Nelson Mandela, Patrice Lamumba, Samora Moisés Machel, Steve Biko and John Garang and countless others who gave up their lifes for their people? are they not African?

      Africans like you who only respect other leaders except their own make me sick with disapointment. Study the history of many African leaders who fought long and hard against Western/ Arab/ Roman imperialism for centuries then formulate an opinion on African leaders, don’t go by the African leaders who are corrupted by internationl elitest for the continuous raping and piliging of our beloved contninet.

      perfect example would be Joseph Kabila whom presided over the killing, raping and displacement of millions of Congolese civillians in order to keep increasing the profit of International corporations and his power. Or Mobuto before him with Billions of Dollars in French and Swiss banks, the list goes on! you’re biased in your opinion of African leaders as there are good ones and bad ones just like anywhere in the world, so stop your ignorrant mentality about African Leaders.

      Where is international justice in Congo, Niger Delta, Latin America, Iraq, South East Asia (just a few weeks ago the Srilankan government bombed and destroyeed civilian areas in the name of routing out the rebels, where was the ICC?????

      Selective justice is not justice! It is politics...

      Africa is the way it is because of International discriminations through many institutions such as the WTO, WB, UN and IMF not simpley because of corrupt leaders.

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      • 22 March 2009 00:18, by summeya

        He is upset about Black man being prosecuted by White man.There is no any bribe in between.

        If Al Bashir should be called to ressponsibility than some African Court should be grounded.Might in South African Republic.Al Bashir is Black.His coloure is not seen by Muslims and might should be.

        Black,Muslim, left alone with starving country.
        o.k. time to say good night Africa

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      • 22 March 2009 21:21, by buokdeng

        Here goes Mr.Logic exhibiting irrationality and illogicality.

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        • 24 March 2009 15:30, by Logic

          Buokdeng.... you’re a funny guy! lol

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