The All Progressives Congress Presidential Campaign Organisation (APCPCO) has made a formal complaint to the International Criminal Court (ICC) against Patience Jonathan, Nigeria’s first lady, who, while speaking at a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) rally in Calabar, Cross River state, about two weeks ago, allegedly called on supporters of the party to stone anyone who came to the state asking for change.
According to APCPCO, the letter of complaint, signed by Rotimi Amaechi, Rivers state governor and director-general of the campaign organisation, would be dispatched to the ICC on March 9, as well as to the inspector-general of the Nigeria police and the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC).
“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,” it said.
The APCPCO likened some of the first lady’s statements and conduct during the political campaign season to those of Simone Gbagbo, wife of the former president of Cote d’Ivoire, Laurent Gbagbo, prior to the 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 recognised 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.
“Patience 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, Muhammadu Buhari and President Goodluck Jonathan – a gesture which is aimed at forestalling violence before, during and after the 2015 elections.
“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.”
It urged the Nigeria police to put in place emergency measures to protect the life and property of APC members in Calabar and the entire Cross River state.