United Nations human rights experts have called for the prosecution of those behind the October 1 quit notice given to Igbos by the Northern youth.
The Northern youth led by Arewa Consultative Forum, June 6 issued a quit notice to Igbos to vacate before or on October 1 – They have, however, withdrawn the quit notice; saying they made the decision to ‘respect’ President Muhammadu Buhari.
The experts, special rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance, Mutuma Ruteere; special rapporteur on minority issues, Fernand de Varennes, and chairperson of the committee on the elimination of racial discrimination, Anastasia Crickley, described the ultimatum as a “grave concern”.
According to TheCable, they also deplored a hate song and audio message being circulated on the internet and on social media targeting the Igbo.
According to a statement issued by the experts, the Hausa-language audio message urges northern Nigerians to destroy the property of Igbo people and kill anyone who refuses to leave by 1 October, the same date given in the ultimatum.
“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,” they 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 human rights experts said though some local and national figures, as well as some media representatives, had publicly denounced any form of hate speech and incitement, 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 said.
“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.