Legal Icon, Mr. Femi Falana, has described as baseless and laughable, the response of former Minister of Finance and Co-ordinator of the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, to his application to the Special Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, ICC, to investigate allegations of crimes against humanity committed by serving and retired military officers and their civilian accomplices.
Pooh poohing Falana, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala had described Falana’s attempt to link her to the controversial $2.1 billion arms scandal as a joke, adding that the lawyer did not have any idea of what the mandate of the ICC was about.
Countering, yesterday, Falana said Okonjo-Iweala’s resort to personal attacks was baseless.
He said: ‘’In my application to the Special Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) last week, I requested for investigation into the allegations of crimes against humanity committed by serving and retired military officers and their civilian accomplices. Having diverted over $8 billion earmarked for the procurement of arms and armament for counter insurgency operations I argued that the suspects who aided and abetted the dreaded Boko Haram sect in the barbaric killing of over 25 soldiers and civilians including children and the displacement of 2 million people ought to be prosecuted at the ICC. However, for having the temerity to request the ICC to investigate the crimes against humanity committed by some former public officers who bear full responsibility for the atrocities perpetrated by the terrorist group Dr. Okonjo-Iweala resorted to the scurrilous attack of my person.
‘’Her baseless attack is not unusual as she is always quick to deflect criticisms by accusing anyone seeking to hold her to account for her appalling records in government of ulterior political motives. When Professor Chukwuma Soludo alleged that about N30 trillion could not be accounted for under her watch he was described as “an embittered loser in the Nigerian political space.
”When Comrade Adams Oshiomhole questioned the illegal withdrawal of $2 billion from the Excess Crude Account, he was accused of having animus towards her because she had blocked Edo State from obtaining a loan. Therefore, instead of exchanging vulgar abuse with the former Minister I shall respond to the diversionary allegations which lacerated her response and the attempt to extricate herself from the mass looting of the commonwealth under her watch.
‘’The claim that I am unfamiliar with the mandate of the ICC shows that Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala has not been following the practice of the court and its active and robust approach to its mandates, in particular with regard to the investigation of crimes in Darfur, the warrant of arrest for Joseph Kony (Uganda), and the warrant of arrest for Ahmad Harun (Sudan).
”In many decided cases, the ICC has expanded its mandate to humanitarian issues, aimed at forestalling and impeding the perpetration of crimes which cause gross human rights abuse. There is absolutely nothing in the Rome Statute of the ICC to suggest that the court cannot address impunity for enormous financial crimes (and its crippling impact) which took place while Mrs. Okonjo-Iweala was the Finance Minister and the Coordinating Minister of the economy.
Dr. Okonjo-Iweala’s claim that I own the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) is far-fetched and laughable. A simple google search would have shown her that while I am one of the legal advisers of the organization, there are other very distinguished lawyers and academics of international repute on SERAP’s board. Her claim that SERAP is ‘discredit’ is the exact opposite of reckless characterization because it is an organization that has won national and international recognitions—including nomination for the UN civil society award; the Ford Foundation Jubilee Transparency Award; and the Wole Soyinka Anti-Corruption Defender Award.