Posted by News Express | 28 August 2017 | 2,155 times
The United Nations has called for the arrest and prosecution of a coalition of northern groups which had on June 6 issued a “quit notice” to Igbos living in the northern part of the Nigeria.
Though the coalition had on Thursday announced the withdrawal of the notice, it however promised to pursue its other listed demands up to the United Nations. Part of the demands is that the government labels the Indigenous People of Biafra IPOB as a terrorist organisation and the immediate arrest of its leader, Nnamdi Kanu, as well as the conduct of a referendum to allow the Igbos have their “Republic of Biafra”.
However, in a statement issued Friday in Geneva, three UN experts urged the Federal Government to also take immediate steps to arrest those behind a song that seeks to disparage the Igbos.
The experts are Mr. Mutuma Ruteere, Special Rapporteur on Contemporary forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and related Intolerance; Mr. Fernand de Varennes, Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues, and Ms. Anastasia Crickley, Chairperson of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
“We are gravely concerned about this proliferation of hate messages and incitement to violence against the Igbo and their property, especially considering the previous history of such violence,” the experts said.
“The Government must be vigilant, as hate speech and incitement can endanger social cohesion and threaten peace by deepening the existing tensions between Nigeria’s ethnic communities.”
The ultimatum was issued on June 6 during a press briefing by the coalition. It had asked the Igbos to vacate the region on or before October 1. However, “mindful of the concerns generated by the clause in the Kaduna declaration that advised the Biafran Igbo to relocate from northern Nigeria and for northerners in the South East to do likewise, and our commitment to the unity of our dear country…and as a consequence of these vigorous engagements and as cultured people with a tradition of respect for our national values, leaders and elders, we are today pleased to announce the immediate suspension of the relocation clause otherwise referred to as the quit notice from the Kaduna Declaration,” the CNG had said in a speech read by its spokesman, Abdulaziz Suleiman on Thursday.
But the human rights experts noted that some local and national figures, as well as some media representatives, had publicly denounced any form of hate speech and incitement, but said other officials still needed to follow suit.
“We are deeply concerned that some prominent local leaders and elders have not condemned the ultimatum, hate speech and the perpetrators,” the experts stressed.
“We call on the Government, media and civil society representatives, and local and religious leaders, to reject and condemn hate speech and incitement to violence unequivocally and in the strongest possible terms.”
The UN experts said any incidents of hate speech and incitement to violence had to be investigated and the perpetrators prosecuted and punished. “This includes the people behind the ultimatum and those responsible for the creation, publication and circulation of the hate song and audio message,” they added.
•Extracted from a Blueprint report.
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