By promoting hate, bigotry, and intolerance through Vanguard Newspapers, Femi Fani-Kayode has commenced a quiet but extraordinary plan to prevent ethnic disharmony in Nigeria. Using petrol, he has been extinguishing fires on the thatched roofs of different ethnic nationalities. His extensive use of nasty insults, connoting genocide that does the job of demeaning his subjects is good news in a multiethnic society like Nigeria where violence and hatred is already commonplace.
This duo of Vanguard and brother Fani-Kayode has been urging their audience to show empathy to members of different ethnic groups in Nigeria. For example, in “The enemy within, the cold-blooded threats from Arewa (1)”, published in Vanguard Newspapers, brother Fani-Kayode referred to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Pa Bisi Akande, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu as “traitors, cowards, and cockroaches”. They characterized these Yoruba leaders as “traitors that led our people into the jaws of death and the poisonous fangs of the ravenous and insatiable Fulani monster”. They concluded by labeling them “useless heap of dung, these cowardly animals.”
Stop to let these praiseworthy and noble expressions reverberate for a moment.
So, just as the Jews were labelled as “vermin” by the Nazis and the Tutsi were labelled as “cockroaches” in Rwanda, before being protected from the genocide that followed, brother Fani-Kayode and Vanguard are trying to protect Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Pa Bisi Akande, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu by labelling them “cockroaches”.
Like in Rwanda, Fani-Kayode is making a “death list” of these moderate Yorubas as the saboteurs that should first be protected in the Yoruba mass revolt he is engineering. To ensure that this “death list” is private, Vanguard Newspaper is helping with the widest circulation. In another example, brother Fani-Kayode and Vanguard equated the Hausa Fulani’s to “barbarians’ bloodsucking tsetse flies” and the moderate Yorubas to “vermin”.
I have gone back and re-watched “Hotel Rwanda” and concluded that brother Fani-Kayode and Vanguard are trying to prevent genocide. Their activity is lacking the hallmark signature of pre-genocidal incitements. The reference to victims as subhuman, especially vermin, insect, and animals is not similar to the same rhetorical techniques used before the Rwandan genocide. They are simply expressing their cherished right to free speech by calling on us to kill ourselves in order to save our lives.
Brother Fani-Kayode is one of the best attorneys in Nigeria while the Editorial Board of Vanguard Newspapers is only second to that of New York Times. They should, therefore, be ignorant of the law when they referred to these people as “cockroaches”.
Of course too, one does not expect Fani-Kayode, an expert on War Crimes, to recognize the founding status of the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) that the unique jus cogens and obligation erga omnes characteristics of the provision against genocide and its incitement.
His strategic incitements, delivered to a large segment of Nigerian population through Vanguard Newspaper, should be celebrated by all peace lovers in Nigeria. When Vanguard pumps anger and hatred on lonely Nigerians, it is a coded way of telling us to be calm and embrace peace.
As a reputable attorney, brother Fani-Kayode and Vanguard Newspapers is not expected to know that genocide begins with words. They should ignore the trademark decision of the ICTR on the effect speech in print. In that landmark ruling, the ICTR, making reference to a small newspaper Kangura with limited circulation, ruled that “the ethnic hatred that permeates through Kangura had the effect of poison… Its message of prejudice and fear paved way for the massacres of the Tutsi population.”
Experience from other regions of the world indicates that hate usually doesn't strike communities from some distant place. It first brews silently under the surface, then finds its way into the minds and souls of the economically depressed inhabitants of our communities, through the new media and propaganda machinery. It then escalates from a simple slur to harassment, then threats and finally physical violence.
We, therefore, know for certain that the incremental effect of the incitement to violence by Fani-Kayode and Vanguard Newspapers was not the catalyst to the Ile-Ife massacre. How could that be, when brother Fani-Kayode and Vanguard were in the forefront of promoting ethnic harmony between the Yorubas and the Hausa-Fulani community in Ile-Ife?
Nigerians should forever be thankful to Fani-Kayode and Vanguard Newspapers for promoting speech with a realistic chance of catalyzing or inciting violence by a group against another. We should thank them for publishing poison where selected ethnicity and individuals are called traitors and cockroaches.
Unlike the herdsmen, Mr. Fani-Kayode and Vanguard Newspapers, without a rifle, or machete may have knowingly caused the death of dozens of innocent Nigerians themselves. We should, therefore, urge the International Criminal Tribunal to recommend them to the Norwegian Nobel Committee for the Nobel Peace Prize for 2017.
One of the goals of the 2017 World Press Freedom Day is to enable media to contribute to the sustainable goal of ensuring peace and inclusiveness. There is no doubt, therefore, that Vanguard Newspapers by helping in the dehumanization of Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Pa Bisi Akande, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and the Hausa-Fulani ethnic group is the contribution towards that goal.
In summary, the Editorial Board of Vanguard should keep pushing their goal of castrating the Nigerian state by promoting the propensity to exterminate human lives on a massive scale. Vanguard and brother Fani-Kayode should keep turning up the notch every day is an attempt to precipitate ethnic cleansing in Nigeria. It is also our patriotic duty to join them in inciting violence and using the machete to “crush the cockroaches” in order to save their lives.
You can email Churchill at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @churchillnnobi