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Bolaji Akinyemi: Visa-Ban Threats Ineffective but ICC Can Prosecute Perpetrators of Election Violence 


Nigeria’s former Minister of Public Affairs, Bolaji Akinyemi, has said that the International Criminal Court (ICC) is able to prosecute those who broke the electoral malpractice law.

On Friday, Akinyemi, in an interview with Arise News, said that while there are electoral laws, along with an electoral tribunal set in place, nobody had been sanctioned breaking electoral laws.

 He noted that an electoral tribunal was not needed to convict those who committed violent crimes during the election, saying, “There are laws in our criminal code against hooliganism. You don’t need an electoral tribunal to convict people who convict bodily harm.”

Giving his opinion, he said that the ones guilty of breaking electoral laws and employing foot soldiers to perpetuate violence had not been duly prosecuted because “everybody is guilty”, saying that even the judiciary may have been involved in these plans.

The United Kingdom had earlier announced that they were compiling a list of those who were involved in the electoral malpractice and violence that took place during the 2023 elections, and when the list is completed, they will be implementing a Visa ban on such people. 

However, Akinyemi said, “I cannot remember any person who has been sanctioned with visa denial.” 

He opined that some of these nations do not enforce the Visa bans as they do not want to lose the businesses that these people bring to their countries.

Nonetheless, he said the International Criminal Court, if presented with sufficient evidence to make a case, could prosecute those found wanting, saying, “The International Criminal Court is there to deal with cases that are bordering on hate crimes… even if we don’t prosecute these criminals, or the UK and the US don’t implement the visa ban, the ICC can work to prosecute these people.”

 At the end of his interview, the former minister stated that a nationwide intervention and reconciliation will be needed, saying that there will be no healing without justice. He said, “All of us are going to have to sit down and look for a solution. Each one of us will do the best that he can to build reconciliation.”

Ozioma Samuel-Ugwuezi