…Why Buhari is only invited President – Ambassador.
Amidst speculations that Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State is on the trip to The Hague, Netherlands with President Muhammadu Buhari to put a lie to allegations that the killings in Plateau State and the Middle-Belt were acts of religious or ethnic cleansing, his spokesman has come out in his defence and debunked the speculations.
Recall that residents of the State and other activists have continued to discuss and taken to the social media lamenting the inclusion of Lalong and his role on the trip.
One of the posts couched as a breaking news and prayer point reads: “Reliable information shows that Buhari left yesterday to the Hague in the Netherlands. He is expected to address the International Criminal Court ICC where more than 100 petitions have been (allegedly) written against him on herdsmen killings.
“The most interesting aspect of the news is that Lalong of Plateau State, as usual, accompanied him to help Buhari deny the killings in Plateau State as ethnic cleansing by herdsmen. Lalong is to speak as the governor of one of the affected states to tell ICC that the killings in Plateau state and the Middle Belt is not genocide and has nothing to do with ethnic cleansing by herdsmen.
“Let’s spread it and pray for God’s intervention”.
In a swift counter, Lalong’s spokesman, Mr. Samuel Emmanuel Nanle, who is with him in Netherlands noted that the “regrettable and unfortunate report” which is not credited to any known or credible source is making the rounds; and targeted at misleading the general public on the reason for the State Visit by President Buhari and a delegation that includes the Governors of Plateau and Ondo States.
He added: “For the Records a press statement by the Special Adviser Media to the President, Mr Femi Adesina which was issued a week ahead of the President’s visit stated unambiguously that the President will be delivering the key note address at 20th Anniversary of the International Court of justice and Criminal court at the Hague and that he would also be having a meeting with the Dutch Government and the Chief Executive Officers of Dutch Companies to explore areas of investment partnership and Expansion in the Nigerian Economy.
“The Governor of Plateau state on the other hand is on the Agricultural Transformation Research, Training and investment Team of the President’s delegation which is led by the Hon Minister for Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh and the team has already undertaken a study of the University of Wageningen Green House and Plant Research Institute.
“To the advantage of the country all the partnership opportunities and areas of investment and training needs have clearly being identified and would be explored further by the Federal and State Government delegation on the Team.”
Meantime, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has charged the President to use his attendance at the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the International Criminal Court (ICC) Rome Statute to report his administration to the court over documented human right abuses, crime against humanity and killings in Nigeria under his watch.
The party said the fact that President Buhari is the only head of state invited to the event shows that the world is particularly alarmed by the spate of bloodletting, extra-judicial executions, illegal arrests arbitrary detention, torture and reported disappearances as captured in the reports by the United States Department of State, Amnesty International (AI) and Transparency International (TI).
However, Nigeria’s Ambassadot to Netherlands, Oji Ngofa, in a meeting with journalists on Sunday explained why Buhari was the only invited President: ‘‘As the only Head of State invited to this milestone event by the Court, that is indicative of the high regard in which Nigeria is held.
‘‘Nigeria has always been a strong pillar of support to the ICC especially in Africa, in the last 20 years, and this visit shows that this support is recognised and appreciated.
‘‘Whilst there have been some criticism of the Court, President Buhari believes that its work is vital to preventing impunity worldwide, and ensuring accountability for perpetrators of the most serious crimes.
‘‘I am certain that this visit will reassure the ICC that Nigeria remains a strong advocate of the ideals of the Rome Statute.”
‘‘The President of the Court, Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji is a distinguished Nigerian jurist.
‘‘His election as President by his peers in March 2018 indicates that his cerebral and leadership traits have not gone unnoticed,’’ he said.
The PDP notes that contrary to the effort by the Presidency to present the invitation as positive for the Buhari Presidency, the Buhari administration surely has a lot of questions to answer at the ICC.
The statement by PDP spokesman, Mr. Kola Ologbondinyan added: “What the Presidency seeks to hide from Nigerians is that the ICC Rome Statute deals directly with critical issues of crime against humanity and genocide, which are already prevalent in Nigeria under President Buhari’s watch.
“The PDP recalls that it had earlier filed a petition at the United Nations against the Buhari administration over issues of human right violations in our country.
“The party therefore calls on the ICC to take President Buhari to task on the globally documented abuse of human rights in Nigeria, particularly, the US Department of State 2017 Human Right Report, which catalogued issues of extrajudicial and arbitrary killings; disappearances and arbitrary detentions and torture, particularly in detention facilities in Nigeria under this administration”.