|Oba Akiolu Of Lagos|
Mrs. Fatou Bensouda
Prosecutor, International Criminal Court (ICC)
The ICC Headquarters, Maanweg, 174
2516 AB, The Hague, The Netherlands
A Call For Immediate Arrest & Prosecution Of Oba Rilwan Akiolu Of Lagos, The Governor Of Lagos State & The Inspector General Of Police Of Nigeria For Commission, Aiding & Abetting Of Crime of Incitement To Genocide Against The Igbo Ethnic Group In Lagos State Of Nigeria
The leadership of International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law, Southeast Nigeria, humbly writes your locally and internationally respected office over the subject above referenced.
On 28th March 2015, Nigerians went to the poll to elect the new president and his vice as well as 360 members of its Federal House of Reps and 109 Senators. The second and final tranche of the country’s 2015 general polls will hold tomorrow being Saturday, 11th April 2015 to elect the country’s 58 out of its 72 State governors and their deputies as well as its 1,152 State legislators. Of these referenced polls, the presidential poll is the most crucial and controversial owing to sharp ethno-religious divisions among the country’s major ethno-religious groups particularly between largely Christian South and largely Muslim North.
Prior to these important polls, the electoral umpire called the Independent National Electoral Commission or INEC compromised its independence and impartiality. It rudely disregarded Nigeria’s ethno-religious composition and pluralism as it concerns the distribution of electronic voters’ cards to the registered voters in the country. The Commission skewed the electronic voters’ cards distribution in favour of Hausa-Fulani ethnic population and ensured widespread denial of other ethnic nationalities including Igbo, Southern and Northern ethnic minorities registered to vote, numbering 12.4 million, access to their electronic voters’ cards.
The INEC, for reasons above, bluntly refused to allow them the use of alternative temporary voters’ cards.
The out-going President comes from the Southern minority tribe of Ijaw with Igbo ethnic group and other minority Southern and Northern Christian entities as his strongholds. At the end, 12.4 million registered voters dominated by the Igbo, Southern and Northern Ethnic Minorities were denied electronic voting cards, their alternatives and voting rights. In Lagos State alone, over 2 million registered voters dominated by the latter were denied electronic voting cards and rights by INEC.
Further, during the referenced poll proper, there were widespread electronic voting card readers’ failures in most of the polling booths in the South-south and the Southeast geopolitical zones leading to late reversion to manual voting accreditation in some voting areas as well as late voting. Strict voting procedures like use of card readers and voting deadline were strictly applied in the South and relaxed in the North during the said voting.
The combination of the foregoing disenfranchised and excluded from voting millions of voters of the Igbo and other ethnic minorities. While the said millions of registered voters were denied or frustrated from voting in the South and other areas in the North populated by minority Christian communities; the electronic voting cards were not only lumped in the North in the hands of Hausa-Fulani Muslim registered voting population, but also millions of under-age children ranging from 8 years to 14 years were registered and accredited as voters by INEC.
The Nigeria’s present Constitution and its Electoral Act of 2010 prohibit citizens less than 18 years and above from being registered as voters as well as voting during elections. This stone-age conduct of INEC resurrected the age-long deep divisions and ethno-religious hatred among dominant Christian and Muslim populations in Nigeria leading to highly divisive and segregated voting that produced Mr. Muhammadu Buhari of the APC (All Progressives Congress) as the winner on account of demographically rigged and manipulated block votes from his Hausa-Fulani Muslim enclaves.
Incitement To Genocide & Crime Of Persecution:
Lagos State is a highly Cosmopolitan Island and Africa’s largest city with over fifteen million residents. Remotely, it was founded in 17th century by the defunct Benin Empire (1440-1897) which used it as a military outpost during the slave trade and pre colonial wars. Its first name was given by the erstwhile fiery Empire as “Eko” or war camp and in 1630, the Empire created the Obaship of Lagos and named one of its princes called “Prince Ado” as its first King or Oba. The area was later named “Lagos” or group of lakes or lagoons by first Portuguese settlers who also built the palace of the Oba of Lagos in 1705. It later became Nigeria’s second federal capital after the city of Calabar (Niger Coast Protectorate).
The area is surrounded by Yoruba speaking areas and Benin Republic and labeled a “Yoruba State” owing to dominance of assimilated and corrupted Yoruba and English Languages. The latter is called “pdigin English” derive from freed slaves and missionaries from Liberia, Sierra Leone and other Anglo regions. Of the State’s over fifteen million residents, Igbo natives constitute at least 40% or six million. The ancient Igbo natives also co-founded the Obaship of Lagos owing to their integration into the Benin Empire’s ruling class and ancient intellectualism such as adoption by the defunct Empire of Igbo’s four-market days, labeling, to mention but a few.
The Igbo ethnic group, apart from being one of Nigeria’s three major ethnic groups; is the most peaceful, accommodating and harmless ethnic group in Nigeria. The group constitutes about 70% of guest population in Nigeria followed by the Fulanis. It has both sedentary or home based and pastoralist or outside home based populations in the country. The Igbo ethnic group is also the most hated and endangered in Nigeria. In the case of the referenced genocidal remarks by the accused Oba of Lagos, it arose from the 28th March 2015 federal legislative poll in the State where five non indigenes including Igbo natives won five federal seats out of 24 seats federally allocated to the State. The out-going President also pulled a surprise to the likes of Oba Rilwan Akiolu by garnering 632,000 votes as against the APC and its Buhari’s 792,000 votes.
Further, in the 1953 anti Igbo Kano riot, thousands of the group’s natives were massacred. In 1966 anti Igbo pogrom in the North, the tribe lost up to 30,000 natives. In 1967-1970 civil war, over 2 million of its natives including men, women and children died from fighting and forced famine. Others are 1981 anti Igbo riots in Kano and Kaduna; the October 1991 anti Igbo killings and the 1995 Gideon Akaluka’s beheading/Igbo massacre in Kano; the Kano and Kaduna anti Igbo riots of 2000/2001; the Abuja and Jos riots of 2001; the 2002 Miss World riot; the 2008 and 2010 Jos riots; the 2009 Boko Haram uprising in the North; and the 2011 post election violence in the North. In these butcheries, tens of thousands of Igbo natives were targeted and slaughtered. As a matter of recent fact, out of at least 13,500 innocent citizens massacred by the Islamist Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria between 2009 and 2014 (President Goodluck Jonathan, New York, USA , September 2014), at least 5,000 were Igbo natives living in the North.
Oba Rilwan Akiolu’s Genocidal Incitement:
On 6th April 2015, the Oba of Lagos, Retired Assistant Inspector General of Police Rilwan Akiolu, made the following genocidal speech against over 6 million Igbo natives in Lagos State of Nigeria:
''On Saturday, if anyone of you (Igbo resident) goes against Akinwunmi Ambode, who I picked, that is your end. If it does not happen within seven days, just know that I am a bastard and it is not my father who gave birth to me. By the grace of God, I am the owner of Lagos for the time being. This is an undivided chair. The palace belongs to the dead and those coming in the future. On Saturday, if anyone of you, I swear in the name of God, Allah goes against my wish that Ambode will be the next governor of Lagos State, the person is going to die inside this water (Lagoon). For the Igbo and others in Lagos, they should go where the Oba of Lagos heads to. When they were coming to the State, they did not come with all their houses. But now, they have properties in the State. So they must do my bidding. And that is the bidding of the ancestors of Lagos and God. I am not ready to beg you. Nobody knew how I picked Ambode. Jimi (Agbaje) is my blood relation and I told him that he could never be governor in Lagos for now. The future belongs to God. I am not begging anybody, but what you people cannot do in Onitsha, Aba or anywhere you cannot do it here. If you vote against my candidate Ambode, Lagos will be hostile to you”.
Hours after the Oba’s genocidal speech was delivered publicly to the Igbo natives’ traditional representatives, the following hate message rented the air and sprang up in every nook and cranny of the referenced State as well as online and social media. The said hate message is as follows:
"Vote Ambode for Governor! Jim Agbaje is giving igbos power to dominate us in our land. He has promised them 4 Local Government Chairmanship positions and 3 Cabinet posts in his cabinet if the Igbos in Lagos support him to win. Can you imagine 5 Igbos have won House of Rep(s) election in Lagos State (?). Jimi Agbaje says when he wins, an Eze Ndigbo will (be) crowned and given the same status as Oba of Lagos. YORUBA E RONU, WE DON'T WANT TO LOOSE (LOSE) LAGOS STATE TO THE IGBOS, THE WAY WE LOST Ilorin, remember The Afonja story. The igbos claim that Lagos is no man's land, let's prove them wrong by voting APC on Saturday. VOTE Akinwunmi Ambode"
The Oba’s attempt to water down or deny the genocidal speech was rubbished by video and audio clips of the referenced speech. Oba Rilwan Akiolu is a first class Oba or Traditional Ruler in Lagos State and a public office appointee of the Government of Lagos with full paraphernalia of office including security detail, official cars, official aides and monthly government pay allowances. He is also a former senior officer of the Nigeria Police Force and its pensioner. The video clip or footage is hereby attached.
Aiding & Abetting By Government Of Lagos State & The Inspector General Of Police:
On account of legally and socially indisputable evidence in public domain and mounting public outcries over the issue, the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Suleiman A. Abba was publicly called upon to investigate and prosecute the culprit, but the Police IG chose to make himself and his NPF an accomplice. He reacted as follows:
“Police cannot investigate Oba Akiolu because he has denied making the (genocidal) statement and that since the traditional ruler has denied the allegation, I am not in any position to state otherwise. I saw it in the media and I tried all my best to verify whether that statement was made and, so far, what I have been able to gather is the fact that the Oba himself denied it. And if the Oba denied it, who am I to say that he didn’t make it. However, if for any reason that becomes a subject of further efforts to confirm if he did it or not, I think we will leave that to the future. But for now, this is what I have.” There is a video clip confirming the IGP’s official reaction above. Our leadership publicly gave him 48Hrs to initiate moves at getting the errant Oba arrested and investigated but he chose otherwise. By the provisions of the ICC, he has aided and abetted. The said video clip is hereby attached.
The Governor of Lagos State and his Government also aided and abetted by refusing to make any bold and categorical public statement on the issue, which ought to include relieving the Oba of his traditional stool and revoking his certificate of office as well as recommending him for arrest and prosecution for conducts capable of breaching public peace, security and safety and other relevant criminal sanctions grounded in Nigeria’s municipal laws and international rights treaties entered into by the country. The State Government’s ruling party merely said “the Oba did not speak for the party, its national leaders and the Government of Lagos State” and that “his speech was a slip of tongue”.
The crimes of Hate Speech and Incitement to Genocide are criminally prohibited and punishable under international law and rights treaties. State-Parties under International Covenant on Civil & Political Rights (ICCPR) of 1966 are enjoined in Article 20 (2) to prohibit hate speech (any advocacy of national, racial, or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence). Nigeria became a State-Party to ICCPR in 1993. Incitement to Genocide is also a fundamental breach of international criminal law including the Genocide Convention of 1948, the ICCPR of 1966 and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court of 1998, which came into force in July 2002. Nigeria is a State-Party to all of them with its specific ratification of the Rome Statute of the ICC in 2001. As Madam Prosecutor is aware, the Crime of Incitement to Genocide is clearly provided for and defined by Article 25 (3) (e) of the Rome Statute of the ICC.
Also the conducts of the trio of Oba Rilwan Akiolu, the Governor/Government of Lagos State and the Inspector General of Police of Nigeria are a clear case of Persecution (intentional and severe deprivation of fundamental rights contrary to international law by reason of the identity of the group or collectivity). This is provided for and clearly defined by Article 7 (2) (g) of the ICC. Rights to vote conscientiously is a fundamental human right recognized by the Chapter Four of Nigeria’s Constitution and the International Covenant on Civil & Political Rights. Threat to make Lagos hostile for Igbo natives living in the State should they vote their traducers’ enemy candidate is also a clear case of Persecution frowned at by the international law.
Further, in case of Aiding & Abetting, it is grounded under the Jurisdiction & Admissibility of the Rome Statute of the ICC as well as other relevant provisions of the Court. It provides: “the Court has jurisdiction over individuals accused of these crimes including those directly responsible for committing the crimes as well as others who may be liable for the crimes for example by aiding, abetting or otherwise assisting in the commission of the crimes”.
The Principle of Complementarity, which invokes the jurisdiction of the Court on account of unwillingness and inability of the State-Party to investigate, prosecute and punish criminal suspects under the ICC mandate, is fully grounded in this case owing to the accused authorities’ refusal and unwillingness to the punish the first accused (Oba Akiolu). This is in accordance with Article 17 of the Statute establishing the Court. By Article 25 (3) of the Rome Statute of the ICC under Individual Criminal Responsibility, a person shall be held criminally responsible and liable for punishment for committing a crime within the jurisdiction of the Court if that person in respect of the crime of genocide directly and publicly incites others to commit genocide.
It is globally agreed that the inherent dignity and equality of every individual is the foundational axiom of international human rights and law. Already, some individuals and groups with vested interests including the party supporters of the first accused (Oba Akiolu) have given the Oba’s genocidal public speech a lot of interpretations in order to water down its meaning in a misleading and deceitful manner. Some said “he drank”, “he spoke figuratively”, “he spoke in parable” and others said “he spoke out of anger”, etc. These sponsored excuses have no single bearing in the international crime being complained of. The traditional global elements of crime are well grounded in the referenced case.
The attached video clip also does not show any of these infantile and watery excuses in the referenced international criminal conduct. The Government of Lagos State, under which the first accused serves, has a notorious record of intolerance and anti ethnic rights policies and actions. In July 2013, in the hours of the blue law, it rounded 76 Igbo natives lawfully residing in the State and deported them to Anambra State and dumped them under a popular overhead bridge before cock crows.
In view of the foregoing therefore, we call for investigative and prosecutorial intervention by Madam Prosecutor and her Court. The first accused, who is supposed to be the custodian of peace, social harmony and values in his traditional domain has become a serial promoter and instigator of social disharmony and ethnic cleansing capable of erupting into genocide of uncontrollable proportions. The resolve of the second and third accused to aid and abet the genocidal conduct of the first accused is also shocking and deafening.
There are ominous signs all over Lagos State and environs that the lives, liberties and properties of over 6 millions Igbo natives in the State will indeed be perished in the lagoon particularly after the referenced polls unless Madam Prosecutor and her Court intervene urgently. The referenced genocidal speech is akin to operation nettoyer (operation clean up the Tutsis) used during the Rwandan Genocide of April to July 1994 that killed approximately one million people. Interestingly, the Nigeria’s version under reference is coming in the same month the world is marking 21 years of the Rwandan Genocide. As our tribute to the Rwandan fallen heroes and heroines of its 1994 Genocide, we hereby dedicate this anti genocidal clarion call in memory of the sad episode of 1994.
Madam Prosecutor is grandly urged to punish the accused so as to serve as enough deterrence to others. Besides, Igbo natives in Nigeria, having become endangered species in their own country; should be internationally protected at all times. Despite winning the presidential poll under controversial circumstances, the jubilant Hausa-Fulani youths in the North still resorted to killing and maiming of Igbo native residents in the area for not joining them in saying “Sai Buhari!” (sort of “Buhari is great”). In considering our criminal complaint against the accused, Madam Prosecutor is also prayed to consider other criminal sanctions against them in accordance with the provisions of the Rome Statute establishing the Court.
For: International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law
Emeka Umeagbalasi, B.Sc. (Hons.) Criminology & Security Studies
Barr Chiugo Onwuatuegwu, Head, Democracy & Good Governance Program
Barr Obianuju Igboeli, Head, Civil Liberties & Rule of Law Program
Barr Uzochukwu Oguejiofor, Head, Campaign & Publicity Department
Note: Our Address: 41, Miss Elems Street, Fegge, Onitsha, Southeast, Nigeria