ICC considers petition over killing of Nigerians in South Africa
Following a petition by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) to the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), the global body has decided to probe the xenophobic attacks against foreigners, including Nigerians, in South Africa.
SERAP Executive Director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, disclosed this in a statement yesterday the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court acknowledges received the petition and will considered it in accordance with the provisions of Rome Statute of ICC.
Meanwhile, President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday suspended the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Amb. Danjuma Sheni from duty for inappropriate conduct.
A letter dated April 28, 2015 and signed by the Head of Service of the Federation, Mr. Danladi Kifasi said that the suspension is with immediate effect.
According to the Head of Service, Ambassador Bulus Lolo has been directed to take over from Sheni until further notice. A close source in the Office of the Head of Service revealed that this may not be unconnected with the Xenophobia attacks on migrants in South Africa.
On April 23, 2015 SERAP had, in a petition sent to the ICC, requested the Prosecutor, Mrs. Fatou Bensouda, to use her “good offices and position to investigate allegations of hate speech by the Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini, which has resulted in killing, violence and discrimination against Nigerians and other African citizens living in South Africa, as well as the complicity/negligence of the country’s law enforcement agencies to prevent these crimes against civilian population.”
In response, the ICC, in a letter dated 28 April 2015, and signed by the Head of Information and Evidence Unit of the Office of the Prosecutor, M.P. Dillon, said: “The Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court acknowledges receipt of your documents. This communication has been duly entered in the Communications Register of the Office.
We will give consideration to this communication, as appropriate, in accordance with the provisions of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. As soon as a decision is reached, we will inform you, in writing, and provide you with reasons for this decision.”
SERAP, in its petition, had urged Bensouda to bring to justice anyone who is responsible for these international crimes prohibited under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
The group said: “The use of speech by the Zulu King to promote hatred and/or incite violence against non-nationals such as Nigerians, particularly in the media is a clear violation of the provisions of the Rome Statute of International Criminal Court.
“Grave statements by political leaders/prominent people that express discrimination and cause violence against non-nationals cannot be justified under any law.
This hate speech generated fear and hatred that created the conditions for violence and discrimination against Nigerians and other African citizens. SERAP believes that this has given rise to individual criminal responsibility under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.”
Also, SERAP argued that, “the statement by the Zulu King amounts to a harmful form of expression which incites or otherwise promotes hatred, discrimination, violence and intolerance. We are seriously concerned that crimes against humanity are often accompanied or preceded by the kind of statement made by the Zulu King.
“Once the climate of violence has been created, direct and public incitement to crimes builds on it, exacerbating the situation by further heating up passions and directing South Africans’ hatred towards non-nationals such as Nigerians.
Hate speech by King Zulu is legally tied to contemporaneous, large-scale violence and inhumane and discriminatory treatment of Nigerians and other African citizens.
“The statement by the Zulu King has contributed to a climate of fear, demonization and dehumanization of Nigerians and other African citizens, thus violating their human dignity through humiliation and expulsion from the human community.
SERAP is seriously concerned that hate speech by the Zulu King amounts to crime against humanity of persecution and has directly contributed to an infringement of the right to life, equality and non-discrimination of Nigerians and other African citizens.”
The Guardian gathered yesterday from a Presidency source, that President Jonathan was said to have expressed outrage that the ministry which is supposed to project the country’s image to the external world had become a source of national embarrassment, through its unprofessional handling of diplomatic issues affecting the nation.
The source said the action followed an in-house review of the reactions generated by the recall saga. “where the President expressed anger over the incident. His anger stemmed from the fact that he was not informed, neither did anybody contact him before the action of recalling the officers was taken.
The government’s action is coming barely 24 hours after the federal government denied media reports of the alleged recall of Nigeria’s envoys in the former anti-apartheid enclave, saying that the government merely invited Nigeria’s Charge De Affairs(envoys) in South Africa for routine consultation.
The Federal Government on Monday denied media reports that it had recalled its envoys in South Africa back home as a fallout of the xenophobic attack in that country, even as it condones the government of Nepal over the devastating earthquake ravaging the country.
Stating the Federal Government’s position, the Special Adviser Media and Publicity to President Jonathan, Reuben Abati in a statement said the report that the government had recalled the country’s envoys in South Africa has no basis as the country currently had no High Commissioner.
The source, who pleaded anonymity, told some journalists in Abuja that the suspended permanent secretary , without recourse to the President to seek his input went ahead to take the action, which had put Nigeria in bad light.
According to him, “The President was not informed. He was put in the picture over the matter. You will recall that this is the second time the President is being embarrassed over what has been seen as unprofessional handling of diplomatic issues involving Nigeria and other countries.
“The President said they messed him up on the Morocco issue and they also messed him up on this one. And he said they will not go away with this one. The minister himself would have been fired if not because we have just one month to go.”
The said officer was said to have been behind the King of Morocco phone call fiasco which occurred shortly before the March 28 presidential election, where he, Jonathan was said to have discussed on phone with the Moroccan monarch, when in actual sense, nothing of sort happened.