By Kunle Olasanmi Abuja
Ahead of elections into the bench of the International Criminal Court (ICC) scheduled for December, 2020, the African Bar Association (AFBA) has thrown its weight behind the candidacy of the Nigerian nominee, the Chief Judge of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Justice Ishaq Bello, whom it described as “one of the most productive and respected judges in Nigeria.”
AFBA also endorsed Justice Raymond Sock of Gambia, Justice Aisse Tall of Senegal, Proper Milanelou of Congo and Mario Samba of Sierra Leone as worthy nominees well qualified to represent Africa at the International Criminal Court.
AFBA, which expressed its position through an electronic statement signed by its Director, Press Office, Heredia Siki, however decried negative comments made against the nomination of some of the African judges, saying it was capable of jeopardizing the region’s interest.
The association said “the AFBA is very disturbed about the misinterpretation of the report of the ICC Advisory Committee on the nomination of the Judges which saw notable African Judges highly qualified for the Election stage including Ishaq Bello of Nigeria, Raymond Sock of Gambia, Aisse Tall of Senegal, Proper Milanelou of Congo and Maria Samba of Sierra Leone.”
AFBA said “While Maria Samba was adjudged very qualified, the other African candidates were adjudged formally qualified. The misinterpretation of the nomenclature of very qualified and formally qualified is unnecessary as all Candidates are going to pass through an election where all members of the assembly of state parties will cast their votes for any of these candidates and those of other countries depending on their strategic choice based on a number of underlying factors.”
The association noted that “Justice Ishaq Bello one of the most productive and respected judges in Nigeria was adjudged formally qualified so was Justice Raymond Sock of Gambia, who is a Judge of the Gambian Supreme Court and former Acting Chief Justice of the Gambia”, adding that “both Candidates have met the formal requirements to become judges of the ICC and that is what is important and therefore they deserve our support not negative comments laced with political undertones.”
It noted that “there are candidates from Europe, Asia, and North America, who have also been adjudged “formally qualified” who will also compete at the election in December 2020.”
Therefore, it said “What African judges least deserves now are not negative comments coming from Africans as these comments are capable of undermining African interest. The African Bar will continue to work for and support all African judges qualified to serve in the Bench of the ICC.”