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UN asks FG to investigate, Prosecute Persons involved in Hate Speech against Igbos

The United Nations (UN) is not glossing over hate speeches and other anti-Igbo actions in Nigeria. The glob­al body, which reviewed ethnic trends in Nigeria on Monday, asked the Federal Government to investigate and prosecute persons involved in issuing hate speeches against people of Igbo extraction in the country.

The United Nations Human Rights through the Office of the High Commissioner, stressed that the ultimatum that Nigeri­ans of Igbo ethnic group should leave certain parts of the coun­try was of “grave concern.”

In a statement made avail­able to journalists yesterday in Abuja, the UN group of human rights experts “deplored a hate song and audio message being circulated on the internet and on the social media.

“The Hausa language audio message urges northern Nige­rians to destroy the property of Igbo people and kill anyone who refuses to leave by October 1, 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,” the experts emphasized.

The experts are Mr. Mutu­ma Ruteere, Special Rappor­teur on Contemporary Forms of Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intoler­ance; Mr. Fernard de Varennes, Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues, and Ms. Anastasia Crick­ley, Chairperson of the Commit­tee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as Spe­cial Procedures of the UN Hu­man Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that addresses either special coun­try situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world.

They said: “The Nigerian 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.”

Similarly, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Dis­crimination, in another state­ment titled “Prevention of Ra­cial discrimination, Including Early Warning and Urgent Ac­tion Procedures”, Decision 2 (93) on Nigeria warn of similar con­sequences.

The body deplored rising hate speeches and songs, includ­ing the ultimatum, as well as the seeming lethargy by the govern­ment to tackle the problems ef­fectively.

The ultimatum was issued on June 6, 2017, during a press briefing by the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum in Kaduna.

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 that any incidents of hate speech and incitement to violence had to be investigated and the perpetrators prosecuted and punished.

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