Gideon Christian, a lawyer, has requested that Bayo Onanuga, the Director of Media for the All Progressives Congress Presidential Campaign Council, be prosecuted at the International Criminal Court (ICC) for allegedly encouraging violence during the 2023 elections.
The petition was received by the ICC on March 27, 2023, and it was signed by Mark P. Dillon, Head of the Office of the Prosecutor’s Information and Evidence Unit.
Following Babjide Sanwo-Olu’s reelection as Lagos State Governor, Onanuga made an anti-Igbo statement on Twitter, which drew criticism.
Christian, on the other hand, officially reported the situation to the International Criminal Court (ICC), requesting that the ICC investigate the ethnic violence that broke out during the recent election.
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“This communication has been properly recorded in the Office’s Communications Register.” In accordance with the provisions of the International Criminal Court’s Rome Statute, we will consider this communication as necessary.
Please note that the Office of the Prosecutor has not initiated or will initiate an investigation as of this acknowledgement letter. We will notify you in writing as soon as a decision is made and provide you with reasons for it.
The lawyer made a precise accusation against Onanuga for tweeting threats to voters to avoid Lagos politics following the election.
Christian argued that such an act violated international law in an uncivilized manner and warranted an investigation.
“Pursuant to art.15 of the Rome Statute, please accept this communication to the International Criminal Court (the Court) requesting the Office of the Prosecutor to conduct an investigation into a series of ethnically motivated violence resulting in injuries and deaths during the just concluded Presidential and Governorship elections in Nigeria,” reads the remainder of the document.
“The European Union Election Observer Mission in Nigeria, which observed both elections, noted multiple instances of “organized violent attacks” with “many casualties and fatalities” in their interim report on March 20, 2023.
“These incidents were caused by Nigerian politicians and agents who actively (directly and indirectly) incited groups of people to harm other people from a targeted ethnic group (the Igbo) as well as people who “look” like people from that ethnic group. These incidents were the result of inciting ethnic hatred.
“It is documented that, prior to the elections, highly influential individuals and politicians, particularly in Lagos, had publicly warned Nigerians of the Igbo ethnic group not to show up to exercise their constitutional right to vote.
“Even though this complaint is not specifically about the deprivation of that right—which, admittedly, this Court does not have jurisdiction over—it is evident that politicians and influential individuals incited ethnic hatred in an effort to deprive members of this ethnic group of their right to vote, resulting in “many casualties and fatalities” to individuals from the Igbo ethnic group, including those who “looked like them.” Clearly, Mr. Bayo Onanuga was one of these people.
“Mr. Bayo Onanuga, a very influential journalist who turned politician and is now Director of Media and Publicity in the ruling political party’s presidential campaign organization, issued a threat on Twitter warning individuals from the Igbo ethnic group that 2023 should be the last time they will be interfering in Lagos politics. This came after the completion of the governorship election in Nigeria, in which individuals from the Igbo ethnic group and others who “looked like them” suffered “many casualties and
“The legitimate act by members of the Igbo ethnic group in Lagos in exercising their constitutional right to vote anywhere in Nigeria gave rise to Mr. Onanuga’s concept of interference. This statement was made after people of this ethnicity were attacked and killed in Lagos during the election for governor. After Mr. Onanuga posted a tweet, the attacks continued.
“The threat of future harm to individuals from the Igbo ethnic group in future elections in 2027 is what is more troubling about Mr. Onanuga’s tweet.”
“I, therefore, request that this Court conduct an investigation into the conduct of Mr. Onanuga and other individuals in Nigeria who directly and indirectly organized, incited, aided, and abetted the ethnically motivated election and post-election violence in Nigeria and take the appropriate action to hold them responsible for their actions,” the statement reads. This will stop people from doing things in the future that are against international law.