By Bojosi Morule, Communications
Nigeria joined Chad, Eritrea, and Ethiopia as an African Union member state that has welcomed Sudan’s President Omar Al-Bashir in the past year. Bashir was in Abuja to attend the African Union Special Summit on HIV/AIDs, Tuberculosis and Malaria. He left the 4-day summit within 24 hours of his arrival, amid calls for his arrest by Nigerian activists and the broader international community.
The International Criminal Court initially charged Bashir in March 2009.
The charges against him are particularly egregious: “Five counts of crimes against humanity (murder, extermination, forcible transfer, torture and rape) and two counts of war crimes (intentionally directing attacks against a civilian population and pillaging) (first warrant, March 4, 2009); three counts of genocide (by killing, by causing serious bodily or mental harm and by deliberately inflicting conditions of life calculated to bring about a group’s physical destruction) (second warrant, July 12, 2010)”. (1)
‘The BBC’s Chris Ewokor in Abuja says Mr Bashir received a full guard of honour when he landed in Abuja’. (2) Nigeria and the African Union laying out the red carpet for Bashir is the kind of action that denies African states the accountable leadership they need to improve living conditions for all. Therefore, Bashir’s invitation to the summit should not be seen as pragmatic but as delaying (or denying) Sudanese people justice for what they continue to suffer.
Nigeria is a state party to the Rome Statute. Therefore it has not only ignored its moral obligations by allowing Bashir to visit, but its international ones as well. Countries that have indicated that Bashir is not welcome within their borders include Zambia, Malawi, South Africa, Kenya and Botswana.
Photo credit UN Photo/Tim McKulka