Days after the February 25 presidential election, there are fears that actions of some politicians may widen disunity and threaten the already fragile peace in the country.
The National Human Rights Commission, NHRC, had expressed concern about the nationwide rise in hate speech fueled by politicians seeking political patronage.
NHRC warned that ethnic and religious sentiments were being used to create division, fear, and hatred among different groups.
The commission noted that using and misusing social media to spread ethnic and religious hate-laced messages is worrisome, with far-reaching and complex implications.
Chief Tony Ojukwu, the Commission’s Executive Secretary, who disclosed the organisation’s worry, lamented that the threat had crept into places of worship where religious leaders have joined the unholy enterprise of spreading hate speeches.
MEZIESBLOG findings revealed that the ethnic hate-laced messages cut across political parties. However, APC spokespersons Bayo Onanuga and Femi Fani-Kayode, have come under the radar recently because of their tweets.
This is even as the President-elect, Bola Ahmed Tinubu has maintained silence about the development.
The media reported how Onanuga warned the Igbo in Lagos State against “interfering” with politics in the state.
Following the conclusion of the March 18 Gubernatorial election in some States, Onanuga tweeted the warning via his official Twitter account.
“Let 2023 be the last time of Igbo interference in Lagos politics. Let there be no repeat in 2027.
“Lagos is like Anambra, Imo, any Nigerian state. It is not No Man’s Land, not Federal Capital Territory. It is Yoruba land. Mind your business,” he wrote.
Onanuga would later double down on his tweet, saying he owed nobody any apology for asking the Igbo never to interfere with the politics of Lagos State.
Meanwhile, on Monday, the International Criminal Court (ICC) formally acknowledged receipt of a petition written by Professor Gideon Christian to investigate election and post-election violence in Nigeria, which alleged incitement to ethnic hate by Onanuga.
Christian had, in his petition titled: “Request to Investigate the Election and Post-Election Violence in Nigeria as well as Incitement to Ethnic Hate by Mr Bayo Onanuga”, invited the Office of the prosecutor to investigate a series of ethnically motivated violence resulting in injuries and death during the just concluded presidential and governorship elections in Nigeria.
He alleged that Onanuga issued a threat on Twitter warning individuals from the Igbo ethnic group that 2023 should be the last time they would be interfering in Lagos politics.
Similarly, the United Kingdom has hit out at Fani-Kayode over controversial comments made during the electoral season.
The British Deputy High Commissioner to Nigeria, Ben Llewellyn-Jones, faulted Fani-Kayode for derogatory remarks, warning that the UK government would issue visa bans to people undermining democracy.
Meanwhile, the Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, last week, wrote a letter to the Department of State Services (DSS) calling for the arrest of the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi, and his running mate, Datti Baba-Ahmed, over their comments on the outcome of the 2023 presidential election.
Keyamo, who served as the spokesperson of the APC Presidential Campaign Council, accused Obi and Datti of making incendiary claims on the presidential election, which he said was capable of truncating the nation’s democracy.
Datti was reported to have said that if the President-Elect is sworn in on May 29, 2023, it would “signal the end of democracy”.
An Abuja-based activist, Maduabuchi Idam, told reporters that the statements of these individuals had incited the Nigerian public and could amount to treasonable offence.
Idam, a lawyer, warned that individuals acting for their political principal should consider that the country has different religions and tribes.
He said, “These statements have clearly incited the Nigerian public. And they can be construed to mean a treasonable offence. You cannot say that those statements have not incited Nigerians or, in one way or the other, attempted to cause disunity.
“Nigeria is, without a doubt, a complex society with different religions and different tribes. And that is why individuals acting for their political principal should factor that in mind so that they don’t do anything that would cause disunity.
“So for anybody writing to ICC, I don’t know how that would go because ICC is actually having jurisdiction over the government or individuals when it has to do with war crimes. I don’t know how that will fly, but I can tell you that under our local laws, those comments have clearly flouted the provisions of the penal code.”
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