Justice Ishaq Bello, who was nominated by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), has been ranked low along with six others by an International Criminal Court Committee.

Currently, the only Nigerian on the ICC’s list of 18 judges is Justice Chile Eboe-Osuji.

Justice Ishaq Bello, who was nominated by Buhari to The Hague, was described by the ICC as lacking knowledge of the workings of the court and the Rome statutes.

This is according to a report of the Advisory Committee on Nomination of Judges on the work of its seventh session dated September 30, 2020.

The report states that Bello, who is the Chief Judge of the Federal Capital Territory High Court is fluent in English and knowledgeable in criminal law but seems to lack the required skill needed for the ICC job.

The advisory committee classified all nominees into four categories- highly qualified, qualified, only formally qualified and not qualified.

Justice Bello was designated as ‘only formally qualified’.

The report on the Nigerian judge read in part, “The committee noted that the candidate, currently Chief Judge of the Federal Capital Territory, Nigeria, has extensive judicial experience in criminal proceedings. The committee noted that the candidate was articulate and knowledgeable regarding criminal law and procedure at the national level.

“The committee noted that the candidate does not have direct experience in international criminal law and procedure based on his answers to questions regarding the functions and powers of pre-trial and trial chambers and the admissibility of evidence collected in violation of legal provisions, and did not have in-depth knowledge of the Rome Statute or the jurisprudence of the International Criminal Court. He demonstrated, however, good general knowledge of how a judicial body should work in a multicultural environment.

“Based on both his professional experience as well as his answers during the interview, the committee concluded that the candidate is, subject to the issue of language, only formally qualified for appointment as judge of the International Criminal Court.”

The judge has a master’s degree in international criminal law from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, “where his dissertation was on the topic of individual criminal responsibility under the Rome Statute”.

The ICC also uploaded Justice Bello’s responses to questions on its website.

Some of the questions include how he will cope with the workload of the court if appointed, perception of the court, judges’ independence, and work history.

The other 19 nominees for the ICC job include- Althea Alexis-Windsor of Trinidad and Tobago (highly qualified); Khosbayor Chagdaa of Mongolia who was also designated (only formally qualified); Jasmina CosicDedovic of Bosnia and Herzegovina (highly qualified), Joanna Korner of the United Kingdom (highly qualified), Laurence Massart of Belgium (highly qualified) and Prosper Milandou of the Republic of Congo (only formally qualified).

Others include- Miatta Samba of Sierra Leone (highly qualified), Monica Sifuentes of Brazil (qualified), Raymond Sock from The Gambia (only formally qualified), Aisse Tall of Senegal (only formally qualified), Victor Tsilonis of Greece (highly qualified), Barreto Gonzalez of Colombia (only formally qualified) and Ben Mahfoudh of Tunisia (highly qualified).

The candidate of Mexico, Flores Liera was designated as highly qualified; Burkina Faso’s Gberdao Kam was described as qualified; Georgia’s Gocha Lordkipanidze was described as qualified; peralta Distefano of Uruguay (highly qualified), Salvador Crespo of Ecuador (only formally qualified), Ugalde Godinez of Costa Rica (highly qualified).

The ICC an intergovernmental organisation and international tribunal that sits in The Hague, Netherlands. It is the first and only permanent international court with jurisdiction to prosecute individuals for the international crimes of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and the crime of aggression.