The Presidential Campaign Council of the All Progressives Congress has lodged a complaint against Nigeria’s First Lady at the International Criminal Court (ICC) for urging violence against opposition in campaign for the general elections starting March 28.
Dame Patience, President Goodluck Jonathan’s wife, during a rally in Calabar, Cross River State last week, had called on supporters of the ruling party to “stone” members of the opposition when they come to the state campaigning for change.
“Anybody that comes and tells you change, stone that person. Anybody that tells you change, tell that person, carry your change and get away,” she was quoted as saying at the rally.
The complaint letter to the ICC was signed by Rotimi Amaechi, Rivers state governor and Director General of Gen Muhammadu Buhari’s Presidential Campaign Council.
Amaechi said copies of the letter would be sent to the Inspector General of the Nigeria Police (IG) and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).
Governor Amaechi said “Change, as the entire country must know by now, is the slogan of the APC – the rallying cry of a political party that wishes to bring hope of greater and better things to come for Nigeria and Nigerians. By her statement, Mrs. Jonathan was clearly calling on PDP supporters in Calabar to attack supporters and campaigners of the APC in the state.”
He also likened some of Mrs. Jonathan’s inciting statements and conduct during this political campaign season, to those of Mrs Simone Gbagbo, wife of the former president of Cote d’Ivoire, Laurent Gbagbo, prior to that country’s 2010 election.
The ICC indicted Mrs. Gbagbo for her part in planning to perpetrate brutal attacks – including murder, rape, and sexual violence, on her husband’s political opponents in the wake of the 2010 election.
Mrs. Jonathan does not occupy any formal office in the Nigerian government, as the position of First Lady is not recognized by the Nigerian constitution. But Mrs. Gbagbo’s case shows the ICC’s awareness of how someone beyond formal governmental and military hierarchies can be identified as responsible for serious international crimes.
The APC campaign said Mrs. Jonathan’s incontrovertible hate speech not only contravened the laws of the land, but also went completely against the Abuja Peace Accord jointly signed by the two presidential candidates, General Buhari and President Goodluck Jonathan – and aimed at forestalling violence before, during and after the 2015 election.
“PDP supporters in the state who may not know better could easily yield themselves to the First Lady’s admonition and embark on a process of wanton stoning and other attacks against APC members,” Amaechi said.
The campaign also called on the Nigeria Police to put in place emergency measures to protect the lives and property of APC members in Calabar and the entire Cross River State.
Meanwhile, the First Lady Patience Jonathan said yesterday that she does not subscribe to anything that can cause violence in Nigeria.
Mrs Jonathan was reacting to a decision by the All Progressives Congress Presidential Campaign Organisation to file a complaint against her at the International Criminal Court (ICC) for allegedly calling on People’s Democratic Party’s supporters to “stone” anyone asking for change.
The spokesman of the first lady, Ayo Adewuyi, who spoke to our correspondent on telephone last night, said Mrs Jonathan, “as the mother of the nation, believes in peace, especially before, during and after the forthcoming general elections. And she will not subscribe to anything that could cause violence”.
He added: “It was the APC supporters that stoned the sitting president of the country during the electioneering campaign”.