The 76-year-old, who was acquitted of charges of crimes against humanity in 2019, was speaking after he received a hero’s welcome in his home village, Mama, in the south-west of the country.
“The ICC, it’s not serious, it had to eliminate an inconvenient man, an inconvenient competitor, so they put me there,” he said.
Mr Gbagbo reiterated that he had not committed any crime.
“At first I was a little scared. I told myself that maybe my people had committed crimes and then they hid it from me. Because hey, I didn’t have a gun so if I was arrested it was because of FDS [security forces],” he said.
Mr Gbagbo had been captured in April 2011 after he refused to concede defeat in a run-off election.
That refusal sparked a brief civil war in which 3,000 died.
These were his first comments about his acquittal since he came back to Ivory Coast earlier this month – his successor and rival President Alassane Ouattara had invited him back.
It is not clear if he will still serve time in prison as the Ivorian authorities sentenced him in absentia to 20 years for looting funds from a regional bank.