Chile Eboe-Osuji Emerges ICC Judge

After a tightly contested election which began last Monday, Nigeria's candidate in the International Criminal Court (ICC)  judicial elections, Chile Eboe-Osuji, has clinched one of the six seats on the bench of the ICC.

This is the first time Nigeria will have such a high ranking position in the ICC since 2002 when the Rome Statute – the legal basis for establishing the permanent International Criminal Court – came into force.

ICC is a permanent tribunal created to prosecute individuals for genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, and from 2017, it will also start exercising jurisdiction over crime of aggression.

Eboe-Osuji, who clinched the last available slot in the fiftteenth round of voting held on Friday at the United Nations headquarters in New York after securing 102 votes, will serve for nine years as ICC judge,

As at Thursday night, only two slots were left as candidate of Trinidad and Tobago, Anthony Thomas Aquinas Carmona, and that of Philippines, Miriam Defensor-Santiagor had emerged winners in the first round, while Czech Republic candidate, Robert Fremr, and Dominican Republic candidate, Olga Venecia Herrera Carbuccia, emerged in the second and twelveth rounds of voting respectively.

The candidate of Britain, Howard Morrison, clinched one of the two slots in the thirteenth round of voting after securing 72 votes. The candidate of France however withdrew from the contest after the fourteenth round, thereby living Nigeria to contest in the fifteenth round unpposed.

Countries whose candidates could also not secure the two-third required majority to emerge as ICC judge during the various rounds of voting include Colombia, Poland, Mexico, Cyprus, Costa Rica, Central African Republic, Niger, Burkina Faso, Sierra-Leone, Mauritius and Democratic Republic of Congo. Tunisia, another African country, withdrew before the first round of voting.

To demonstrate how crucial the election was to Nigeria, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Martin Uhomoibhi, and the Solicitor General of the Federation, Abdullahi Ahmed Yola, who is also the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Justice, were in New York to rally support for Eboe-Osuji.

In an election that also threw up the age-long Anglophone and Francophone dichotomy in Africa, top officials of the Nigerian Mission to the UN, including the officer incharge of elections at the Mission, Mr. Richard Adejola, engaged in high-level diplomacy throughout the week to ensure that Nigeria, and indeed Africa, clinched one of the available six slots on the ICC bench.

In a brief interview with THISDAY in New York on Saturday, Eboe-Osuji, described his victory as a "humbling experience", and thanked President Goodluck Jonathan, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Olugbenga Ashiru, Attonney General of the Federation, Mohammed Adoke, and the Permanent Representative to the UN, Prof. Joy Ogwu, for their support.

Eboe-Osuji, whose candidacy, and that of Mauritius, were endorsed by the African Union  had served as Legal Advisor to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Geneva, Switzerland, and also worked at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), where he served as Principal Legal Adviser to the Chambers between 2008 and 2009.

He was also a Senior Appeals Counsel at the Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) and a Senior Legal Officer in the Office of the Prosecutor at the ICTR where he worked on the case of Bagosora, Nsengiyumva, Kabiligi and Ntabakuze, and the Semanza case.

Eboe-Osuji, who taught International Criminal Law at the University of Ottawa Faculty of Law in Ontario, Canada, had appeared in  several civil, constitutional and criminal cases at all levels of court in Canada, as a barrister.

Author: nmmin

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