Human rights lawyer and activist, Mr Femi Falana (SAN), said the real reason former President Goodluck Jonathan conceded defeat in 2015 was because of the arrest and prosecution warning issued by the International Criminal Court ahead of the elections.
He said prior to the elections, ICC had warned that should there be any violence and crimes against humanity, any leader responsible would be arrested and prosecuted the same way the ex-President of Cote d’Ivoire, Laurent Gbagbo, was prosecuted.
According to a statement made available to journalists on Monday, Falana said this at the inauguration of the League of Anambra Professionals Legal Defence Initiative, held in Lagos over the weekend.
The lawyer added that for fear of ICC, no Nigerian leader dared annul election again like a former Head of State, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida (retd.), did in 1993.
He also dismissed the fear that President Muhammadu Buhari might be unwilling to leave office if he should lose next year’s election.
Falana said, “Unlike in 1993 when the military President, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, successfully annulled an election, that is no longer possible.
“Whoever does that now will end up in The Hague. He is likely to be tried for crimes against humanity because if you annul an election, you are likely to have a monumental violence in the country which will lead to crimes against humanity.
“Before the 2015 elections, the ICC warned that if there was any problem in Nigeria, anybody who was responsible would be arrested and charged like former President Laurent Gbagbo of Cote d’Ivoire. That was the atmosphere under which President Goodluck conceded victory.”
Falana said he decided to speak on the issue in order to assure Nigerians that election could no longer be annulled in Nigeria.
This, he said, was important because of the fear that had been expressed that if Buhari lost election, he might not want to hand over.
“That belongs to the past,” he declared.
A former Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, Prof. Chidi Odinkalu, on his part said the clamour for restructuring must be viewed contextually as “Nigeria had been in the process of restructuring since 1903.”