Luis Moreno-Ocampo, the Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) [official websites], on Thursday announced [press release] an investigation into recent violence following national elections in Nigeria [JURIST news archive] earlier this month. The preliminary investigation, a precursor to a formal investigation, comes in the wake of riots that killed over 100 and displaced more than 40,000 [AP report]. Rioting broke over the weekend following the election victory [AFP report] of incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan [BBC profile; JURIST news archive], from the predominantly Christian south, over Muhammadu Buhari [BBC profile] from the predominantly Muslim north. Moreno-Ocampo's office stated:
The Office of the Prosecutor is closely following on the situation in Nigeria and is concerned with the outbreak of violence surrounding the National Assembly and Presidential elections of April 2011. In the context of its on-going preliminary examination activities, the Office will seek to establish whether the recent violence may have been planned and organized and whether crimes falling within the Court's jurisdiction may have been committed. The Office is mindful that the upcoming governorship elections on 26 April could lead to further violence. . . . The Office of the Prosecutor welcomes Nigeria's political leaders' call on their supporters to show restraint and avoid unrest.Moreno-Ocampo indicated his office will support domestic investigations into the post-election violence as well.
Previous elections in Nigeria have been marred by violence and fraud [JURIST reports]. The recent elections are the first since the death of former president Umaru Yar'Adua [BBC obituary] in May, which resulted in Jonathan taking power [JURIST report]. Last month, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] and the Nigerian Bar Association [association website] called for the Nigerian National Assembly to pass legislation creating a special electoral offenses commission [JURIST report]. In June, a constitutional amendment, known as the Constitution (First Amendment) Act 2010 [text, PDF] was passed, changing federal election law by removing a provision of the constitution that disallowed people who had been charged with fraud from standing for election and requiring candidates for federal office to have a degree beyond secondary education. It also repealed the Independent National Electoral Commission Act 2006 in order to re-instate the Nigerian Independent National Election Commission (INEC) [official website].