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FACT CHECK: Did ICC rate President Buhari highest on Integrity?

INTEGRITY. This is one of the common words used to describe President Muhammadu Buhari, who often maintains that he is a man of integrity on a mission to rescue Nigeria from corruption and to sanction corrupt politicians and others alike.

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“I have been in many places including (Ministry of) Petroleum. I would have gone to jail if I had taken an oil well. For integrity and honesty, I have no regrets. By this, I have contributed to my social safety. I won’t go to jail,” the President boasted in June while receiving a delegation of the Supreme Council for Sharia in Nigeria according to a statement released by one of his media aides, Garba Shehu.

So, it was not strange when a Federal lawmaker and a member of the president’s party, Abdulmumin Jibrin in an interview on a national television in July claimed that the International Criminal Court invited Buhari as its 20th anniversary’s keynote speaker because of his integrity.

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Abdulmumin claimed that Buhari is the only president, that achieved the highest indices on integrity in a check carried out by security agencies from twenty European countries and the United States of America on both serving and former African leaders.

“Few weeks ago, the president was in ICC as part of all he has done fighting corruption in this country from when he was a young military officer till date. And when he was there, I met a senior diplomat in one of the developed countries and I asked him a question, how can Nigeria president, an African president from Nigeria is the only president in the history of the ICC that has ever been invited to make such presentation. And he said to me, he showed me about a 100-page document that was carried out, collaborative exercise by security agencies across about twenty European and the Americans..ermh, the United States of America and this is lying down on the desk of a lot of embassies and presidents all around the country. And this security exercise was done on about thirty serving and former Africa Heads of state. Only president Buhari achieved the highest indices of integrity which they called XXXX1. Only President Muhammdu Buhari achieved that. And I got that document, read that document; I was shocked, almost moved to tear,” Jibrin said during the interview.

This message was received with applause from the supporters of the president, especially as the next presidential election is few months away. The president has declared his intention to seek a second term in office.

He is expected to face stiff opposition from the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, which has formed alliance with about thirty-six other political parties. It has also zoned its presidential ticket to the northern region of Nigeria.

Buhari who is from the same region defeated Goodluck Jonathan of the minority region of Niger Delta in 2015.

His party, the All Progressives Congress, APC has suffered from internal crisis in recent weeks, which led to prominent members, including the number three citizen in the hierarchy of government, Senate President Bukola Saraki; three state governors and over 50 federal lawmakers elected on the platform of the party dumping it for the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic party, PDP and the African Democratic Congress (ADC), a party loyal to former Nigeria’s president Olusegun Obasanjo.

Buhari addresses The Court

Buhari’s Personal Assistant on Social Media, Lauretta Onochie and other supporters shared a paraphrased version on Twitter, Facebook and Whatsapp.

It reads: ‘Buhari showed me a document he brought back from ICC, Hague. A top-secret Background Check on Global leaders, past and present. He is the only leader rated XXX1 on Integrity. The Highest Rating Globally. That’s why he is the only World Leader on the ICC floor to address them – Abdulmumin Jibrin, APC Kano’.

Lauretta’s post has enjoyed over 550 retweets Twitter.

 

Is this claim by Jibrin true?

Hon. Jibrin represents Kiru/Bebeji Federal Constituency of Kano State. According to the last national census, Kano is the most populated state in Nigeria.

We have reached out to Hon. Jibrin to clarify his claim and tell us his source but no response yet.

The Court

The International Criminal Court (ICC) investigates and, where warranted, tries individuals charged with the gravest crimes of concern to the international community: genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and the crime of aggression, according to information on the About page of its website.

This is in accordance with the Rome statue which established the court. The statue reads “It (the court) shall be a permanent institution and shall have the power to exercise its jurisdiction over persons for the most serious crimes of international concern, as referred to in this Statute, and shall be complementary to national criminal jurisdictions. The jurisdiction and functioning of the Court shall be governed by the provisions of this Statute”.

The ICC on 16 and 17 July 2018, held an event at its headquarters in The Hague, The Netherlands, to mark the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Rome Statute of the ICC.

Why we invited Buhari

ICC Spokesperson, Fadi El Abdallah in an email exchange via the Public Affairs unit of the court said “it has been standard practice for the ICC to invite Heads of State one ‎at a time for certain high-level events, such as anniversary commemorations but also the opening of the judicial year,” adding that “this is because of logistical and protocol reasons involved in hosting dignitaries at that level”.

He also disclosed that other heads of state have been invited and have participated in high level events organised by the Court in the past, stressing that President Buhari of Nigeria was invited as keynote speaker for the commemorations of the 20th anniversary.

El Abdallah opined that President Buhari was not the only leader invited to the event but that ‘Nigeria was the only State represented by its President’.  He added that more than 30 other States were represented at the level of national Senates and Parliaments chiefs as well as Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Justice.

No integrity Test for Buhari

 “The International Criminal Court (“ICC” or the “Court”) is not involved in any integrity or background check of world leaders,” was the ICC’s response to the claim that it conducted background check on Buhari and other leaders.

“The first indication that this is an unintelligent fabrication comes from the fact that secretly rating the “integrity” of world leaders (whatever in the world that means) is not part of the mandate of the International Criminal Court,” noted International public affairs analyst and renowned columnist, Farooq Kperogi, who worked in President Olusequn Obasanjo’s administration as a presidential speechwriter and researcher.

 

“At no point in the Court’s history has it ever undertaken a rating of the “integrity” of word leaders, whether openly or secretly. What purpose would such a rating serve, anyway? It doesn’t take a lot of intelligence to know that this is a prevarication,” added the teacher of journalism at Kennesaw State University in Georgia, United States.

Ask the man who told you

The presidency was also not forthcoming on the availability of any document on integrity testing for the president. The spokesman of the president, Femi Adesina declined to confirm or refute the claim.

When probed further, he said ‘Ask the man who told you’.

VERDICT

Incorrect


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