U.S. condemns Governor Shema’s “cockroaches” speech

Former Katsina State Governor, Ibrahim Shema
Former Katsina State Governor, Ibrahim Shema

The United States Government has condemned the statements recently made by the governor of Katsina state, Shehu Shema, calling on his supporters to kill and crush political opponents, whom he described as “cockroaches”.

The U.S. government’s position was made known by its embassy office in Abuja via a press statement posted on its website November 20.

A video, depicting the governor making the threat, went viral after it was posted on the Internet on November 12.

It showed the governor, dressed in white agbada and brown sandals, standing on a red carpet, and addressing a crowd in what seemed like a political rally. He spoke in Hausa.

Mr. Shema likened opposition politicians to “cockroaches” before asking the crowd what to do if they found the nocturnal insect in their apartments.

The crowd chorused “Kill them!”

“Crush them!” the governor responded, agreeing with the crowd.

Mr. Shema claims the comments were interpreted out of context.

The European High Commission had also condemned Mr. Shema’s speech after the story was published by PREMIUM TIMES.

The Head, EU Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Michael Arrion, told journalists that Mr. Shema’s call to his supporters to “kill” and “crush” political opponents was “extremely dangerous and
unacceptable”.

“If it is confirmed, that kind of statements are I’m sorry to say, extremely dangerous and unacceptable,” Mr. Arrion said.

In its statement, the United States said as Nigeria looks ahead to the February 2015 general elections, America strongly supports a free, transparent, credible, inclusive, and non-violent electoral process.

“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 statement said.

It also said the rhetorical threat of violence undermines the democratic process and is utterly unacceptable in a democratic society.

“The United States reiterates its call upon all Nigerians to refrain from advocating, fomenting, or condoning violence before, during, or after the elections,” the statement said.

“Participants in the electoral process must demonstrate passion for their convictions and beliefs in a manner that shows respect for opposing differences.

“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’,” it
said.

The U.S. said the use of languages that threaten or incite 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,” it said.

The United States said it remains committed to working with Nigeria to strengthen its democratic institutions in the years to come, adding that a peaceful election in February 2015 will constitute a major step towards reaching that goal.


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