Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir has left Nigeria ahead of an African Union (AU) summit there, following protests for his arrest on charges of genocide in Darfur.
On Monday a human rights group filed a case in a Nigerian court in efforts to compel the government to arrest al-Bashir and hand him over to the International Criminal Court (ICC). Bashir was in Nigeria attending an AU summit conference on health due to end on Tuesday.
The Nigerian Coalition for the International Criminal Court (NCICC) had filled a case in the High Court wanting the government to capture Mr Bashir.
Sudanese envoys accompanying Mr Bashir said he left because he had another engagement to attend to, denying reports that his early departure from Nigeria was to evade arrest.
“He’s the bravest,” Sudan’s ambassador to the African Union Abdelrahman Sirelkhatim Mohamed, was quoted by the AFP news agency saying. “If he’s afraid of arrest, he would not have come here.”
The ICC had issued a statement on Tuesday, asking the Nigerian authorities to immediately arrest Bashir before he left the country and surrender him to the Hague-based court.
“The Chamber recalled that Nigeria is a State party to the Rome Statute since 2001, and has the obligation to execute the Court’s orders” read the statement.
Bashir had arrived in the capital, Abuja, on Sunday to a reception of a full guard of honour from the Nigerian government to attend the summit. He was among the eight African leaders who attended and was expected to make his presentation on Monday at the conference convened to look at ways to curb malaria, Aids and tuberculosis in Africa.
The Nigerian presidential spokesman Reuben Abati said that Mr Bashir was in the country at the AU’s invitation and not Nigeria’s. he said Nigeria had allowed him into the country in accordance with an AU decision not to cooperate with the ICC.
The NCICC chairman Chino Obiagwu said “Nigeria was in breach of its international obligations by failing to arrest him, and was fuelling a culture of impunity.”
The ICC issued an arrest warrant in 2009 for Mr Bashir alongside three others, for charges of genocide in Darfur region of Sudan. An estimated 300,000 have died and some 2.7 million others displaced since the conflict broke out in 2003.
Sudanese government is accused of backing the region’s Arab militias, against a black community in a conflict over rights of land and access to resources in the region that spanned for 10 years.