The National Human Rights Commission, yesterday, reviewed the controversial advert placed in some major national newspapers in the country by Governor Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State with a verdict that the material amounted to “hate speech.”
Though the commission may not immediately arrest and prosecute Fayose because of the immunity he currently enjoys as a sitting governor, the rights commission might recommend him for appropriate sanctions once he leaves office.
This indication emerged at a stakeholders’ roundtable organised by the NHRC for civil society groups, mainstream and social media partners in Abuja, yesterday.
Chairman of the NHRC, Professor Chidi Odinkalu, who addressed journalists at the forum, decried the death wish publication by the advertiser, saying it offended public decency and violated all known norms of decorum.
Odinkalu said the governor, who is a member of the National Council of States, which makes decisions for the security of the country, should have exhibited caution and statesmanship in sending out the message.
The NHRC chairman noted that the governor went too far in his controversial message not minding that even the children of the former Northern leaders he showed to have died in office might feel bad while the same party also expected them to cast their votes for them in the forthcoming elections.
Odinkalu pointed out that the governor’s advert was not only in bad taste but it also violated Section 95 of the Electoral Act and should be made to pay for such open infraction.
Section 95(1) and (2) of the EA says: “A political campaign or slogan shall not be tainted with abusive language directly or indirectly likely to incite religious, ethnic, tribal or sectional feelings.
“Abusive, intemperate, slanderous or base language or insinuations or innuendos designed or likely to provoke violent reaction or emotions shall not be employed or used in political campaigns.”
Mbaka breaches Electoral Act
The commission also took up issue with the Parish Priest of Adoration Ground, Rev Father Ejike Mbaka, for using his pulpit to canvass support for and against President Goodluck Jonathan and Gen. Muhammadu Buhari.
Odinkalu said Mbaka breached the Electoral Act by first prophesying to the First Lady, Dame Patience Jonathan, last November that Jonathan would win the 2015 election and later predicting during his New Year day preaching that Jonathan should resign and leave the stage for Buhari for not doing enough.
The chairman said the action of the Reverend Father breached Section 95 (3) of theElectoral Act, which states that “places designated for religious worship, police station and public offices shall not be used for political campaigns, rallies and processions or to promote, propagate or attack political parties, candidates, their political ideologies or programmes.”
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