The British government has criticized Nigerian government for allowing Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir to attend the ongoing Special Summit of the African Union on HIV/AIDs, tuberculosis and malaria in Abuja.
President Omar has been declared wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide in Darfur.
Ever since the declaration, many Heads of State and Government, including Malawi have turned him down from visiting their countries with the exemption of Chad and Djibouti and now Nigeria.
The wanted leader arrived Abuja, Nigeria’s capital on Sunday to a red-carpet reception and was received by the Minister of Police Affairs, Caleb Olubolade.
A statement by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office expressed disappointment that Nigerian that has a cordial relationship with the United Kingdom could host Al-Bashir even with the ICC warrants still hanging on his neck.
“I am therefore disappointed that Nigeria has chosen to host President Al Bashir of Sudan at an African Union event, despite International Criminal Court (ICC) arrest warrants against him for alleged war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.
“This undermines the work of the ICC and sends the victims a dismaying message that the accountability they are waiting for will be delayed further.
“The British Government takes seriously its obligations as a State Party to the Rome Statute and consistently urges other State Parties in all parts of the world to do the same.”
Nigeria’s Foreign Minister, Olugbenga Ashiru, however said Al-Bashir is in Nigeria on the invitation of the African union and not Nigerian government, noting that the AU had in 2009 paased a resolution not to recognize the ICC warrants.
In an e-mail to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), Ashiru who is away in Brazil wrote, “Sudan’s President is in Nigeria at the invitation of AU for the HIV and AIDS Malaria Summit. Remember AU in 2009 passed a resolution not to cooperate with the ICC on the indictment of President Al Bashir. However, he is not in Nigeria at our instance as Nigeria’s commitment to the AU remains firm”.