Nigeria AU Special Summit: Sudanese President cuts short Nigeria visit

Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir left Nigeria Monday, less than 24 hours after he arrived for the ongoing African Union (AU) Special Summit on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in the capital city of Abuja, SavidNews Nigeria learnt from diplomatic sources Tuesday.

Though sources at the Sudanese Embassy in the Nigerian capital said President al-Bashir left early because of another engagement, speculations are rife here that the decision to cut short the visit was due to the mounting pressure by local and international human rights organisations on Nigeria to arrest him.

President al-Bashir is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide in his country’s Darfur region.

Diplomatic sources disclosed that the last straw for the Sudanese leader was the court case instituted by the Nigerian Coalition for the International Criminal Court (NCICC) on Monday to compel President Goodluck Jonathan to arrest President al-Bashir and hand him to over to the ICC for trial.

As an indication that President al-Bashir was not safe in Nigeria, they pointed to the fact that former Liberian President Charles Taylor, who was granted political asylum in Nigeria as part a peace deal to end the Liberian civil war, was eventually handed over to the Liberian government in 2006, so he could stand trial at the Special Court for Sierra Leone.

Though the Sudanese leader received a red carpet treatment when he arrived at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja on Sunday, he did not show up when he was called to give his address at the opening ceremony of the AU Special Summit, which is due to round off Tuesday (16July).

Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Minister Olugbenga Ashiru had said that Nigeria, though a signatory to the Rome Statute that set up the ICC, did not arrest President al-Bashir since he was in the country at the invitation of the AU.

‘He is not in Nigeria at our instance. Nigeria’s commitment to the AU remains firm,’ he said.

Sudan is not a signatory to the Rome Statute, while the AU has resolved not to cooperate with the ICC over the indictment of President al-Bashir.