The United States of America, USA, the United kingdom, UK, and the European Union, EU, yesterday condemned the statement credited to Kastina State Governor, Alh. Ibrahim Shehu Shema, purportedly calling for the killing of the “cockroaches of politics”.
The United States of America, in an unusually long statement said it was deeply troubled by Shema’s comments which it said “undermines” the nation’s democratic process.
It said, “the rhetorical threat of violence undermines the democratic process and is utterly unacceptable in a democratic society.
“We are deeply troubled by Governor Ibrahim Shehu Shema of Katsina State’s recent statements calling for the killing of the ‘cockroaches of politics.’ The United States reiterates its call upon all Nigerians to refrain from advocating, fomenting, or condoning violence before, during, or after the elections”.
The US lectured Shema on the provisions of the Nigerian constitution saying, “The Nigerian Constitution itself states it is the duty of every citizen to ‘respect the dignity of other citizens and the rights and legitimate interests of citizens to live in unity and harmony.’ Language that threatens or incites violence short-circuits the democratic process.
“All Nigerians must be free to voice their opinions and participate in the electoral process without fear of physical retribution.
Political parties, elected leaders, and candidates for office have a special obligation to uphold these democratic precepts”.
The US, which stressed its commitment to working with Nigeria to strengthen its democratic institutions in the years to come, added that participants in the electoral process must demonstrate passion for their convictions and beliefs in a manner that showed respect for opposing differences.
“As Nigeria looks ahead to the February 2015 general elections, the United States strongly supports a free, transparent, credible, inclusive, and non-violent electoral process,” it remarked.
Similarly, the British High Commission said it was concerned by the reported comments of Governor Shema of Katsina State.
According to its statement , “The British Government supports a peaceful, credible and transparent democratic process, in accordance with the stated principles of the Nigerian Constitution.
“We will continue to make this clear in our engagement with all political actors and parties.
Briefing the media on activities of the EU in Nigeria and in West Africa, , the Head of Delegation of EU to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Amb Michel Arrion, said that the speech delivered in Hausa by Shema, if true, was certainly the beginning of the hate speech that should not develop.
According to him, that statement was extremely dangerous and not therefore acceptable.
“I would say it’s really the beginning of something that is a very serious source of concern for us. You know before my posting here in Nigeria I was working in Rwanda. And in Rwanda, in 90 days, they have killed 1 million ‘cockroaches’ which was the nickname giving to the Tutsis.
“So am not sure the people using that kind of language realise what it means, and I want to be really clear on that. If it is confirmed because I don’t, I am sorry to tell you all, I don’t believe everything I read in the press.
“So we have to be careful and I hope it is not true. And there is no good reason whatsoever to call someone a cockroach. Before Rwanda by the way, I was in Ivory Coast and at that time, there was a party calling the voters of the other party ‘the electoral cattle.’ So calling human beings cattle is more than an insult if I will say. It’s really denying the human nature of people. So let’s be clear on that please.
“This kind of hate speech is absolutely not acceptable in particular in the biggest democracy in Africa; Nigeria after all, you are big country, you are big nation,” Arrion said.
The EU representative, who called on Nigerians to hold their leaders accountable for whatever statement they made, disclosed that Ministerial Dialogue with Nigeria and ECOWAS would be holding next week Thursday in Abuja as part of the effort towards addressing political and security problems confronting the country and other West African countries.
He said the summit, which will be hosted by Nigeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Amb Aminu Wali, would look at bilateral, regional and international issues.
Amb. Arrion pointed out that the Italian State Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Mario Giro, will be leading the EU delegation to the meeting.
He stressed that the commission would look at how it could provide financial support to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the deployment of EU Observer Team ahead of the 2015 poll.
the EU ambassador said, “Technical and financial assistance will be giving to INEC to support them and EU will be sending observers to the six geo- political zones of the country to monitor the election before and after election”
The head of EU in the country also restated the commitment of the commission to ending insurgency in Nigeria and called for a regional response towards tackling the menace of terrorists in Nigeria and the entire Gulf of Guinea.