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Senate Wants Bilateral Agreement with US Rescinded

Posted by From Kola Ologbondiyan in Abuja on 2005/08/17 | Views: 266 |

Senate Wants Bilateral Agreement with US Rescinded


The Senate yesterday asked President Olusegun Oba-sanjo to rescind a bilateral agreement between Nigeria and the United States of America which states that Nigeria would not surrender any American citizen to the International Criminal Court (ICC) without first obtaining the consent of the American government.

The Senate yesterday asked President Olusegun Oba-sanjo to rescind a bilateral agreement between Nigeria and the United States of America which states that Nigeria would not surrender any American citizen to the International Criminal Court (ICC) without first obtaining the consent of the American government.

The Senate decision was predicated on the report of the joint committees on Judiciary led by Senator Oserheimen Osunbor and Foreign Affairs, led by Senator Jubril Aminu, which was mandated to investigate the origin of the treaty as well as its implications on the country regarding Nigeria
being a signatory to the Rome Statute.

The report, which was adopted after a heated debate on the floor, noted that the principle of the equality of all before the law remains the acceptable foundation of the ICC, adding that any bilateral or unilateral effort by any country or organization to limit the effectiveness of the ICC's jurisdiction would undermine its integrity and credibility.

The Senate described the US objection to the ICC as a fall-out of the American domestic politics and related legislations like the Congressional refusal to allow any non-US Court try American citizens.

The Senate also noted that it would amount to double standards for Nigeria to have signed the no-surrender agreement while at the same time remaining a signatory to the Rome Statute.

The Rome Statute, which Nigeria is a signatory, established the ICC and demands that people required to face justice before the court must be surrendered by the country where the person resides.

According to the Senate report: "the United States of America is understandably concerned that its military and civilian personnel will be exposed to politically motivated investigations and prosecutions. The ASPA (American Service Members Protection Act) grants authority to the President of the United States to use all means necessary to ensure such protection.

"It does not require or suggest any particular means to be used to address the issue, according to a statement by the United States Embassy dated June 12, 2002. The US position has been criticized by many as a passive form of unilateralism and that the United States was bent on remaining beside or even above the International Law."

Noting that the agreement violated the Rome Statute of the ICC and that Nigeria would not have endorsed it "knowing fully well we are among the 97 states that are party to the Rome Statute of the ICC," the Senate contended that the "cloak and dagger manner the whole thing was done testifies to the suspicion that Nigeria itself had justifiable reservations about the Agreement."

Citing Section 12(1) of the Constitution, the Senate said that, "no treaty between the Federation and any other country shall have the force of law except to the extent to which any such treaty has been enacted into law by the National Assembly."

On account of this, the Senate therefore asked the Executive to rescind the agreement by giving the stipulated one-year notice of intent to terminate the agreement.

Meanwhile, Solicitor General of the Federation and Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Justice, Prof. Ignatius Ayua, SAN, has urged the Senate to be cautious saying, "the existence of the Article 98 Agreement between Nigeria and the United States does not violate the principles enunciated under the Rome Statute; nor does it in any way affect Nigeria meeting its obligations to the ICC.

"Both parties recalled that the Rome Statute of the ICC is intended to complement and not supplant national criminal jurisdiction and have each expressed their intention to investigate and to prosecute, where appropriate, acts within the jurisdiction of the ICC alleged to have been committed by its officials, employees, military personnel or other nationals."


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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.