March 29, 2023

Ethnic profiling is dastardly, condemnable 

Agenda for 36 governors meeting tomorrow

May Day amid strike fevers

UNLIKE any other time in our post-Civil War history, ethnic profiling has enjoyed a free rein in the past eight years of Muhammadu Buhari’s tenure as president of Nigeria. It has shown up both within and outside the electoral season.

In June 2017, the Arewa Youth Consultative Forum, AYCF, issued what it called a notice to the Igbo ethnic group in the North to “leave” the region because of the Biafra agitations in the South-East and parts of the South-South. Though the group later withdrew the ultimatum, the orders by Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna and the then Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, to get the perpetrators arrested were not carried out. 

The ugly trait was repeated in Lagos State during the recently concluded general elections. A particular political party in the state which felt threatened mobilised its spokesmen and armed hirelings to brazenly violate the constitutional, citizenship and political rights of fellow Nigerians. People were threatened, intimidated, attacked and disenfranchised because of their political preferences.

The worst of it was that non-indigenous ethnic groups in Lagos were cynically profiled, threatened and prevented from voting. They also complained of being discriminated against during the Permanent Voter Card, PVC, registration and collection exercises. These miscreants asked the Igbo residents to “leave Lagos”. 

In no other part of the country was any group profiled, denied their voting rights and asked to abandon their trillions of naira worth of investments and “leave”. The social media is littered with the identities of those who indulged in this dangerous act. Yet, law enforcement agencies just watched and did nothing. 

Perhaps they were waiting until it spilled over into ethnic bloodletting before swinging into action? It is so unfortunate that state agencies have completely sold out to powerful politicians and their political parties. They feel too intimidated to do their constitutionally-mandated duties to protect the rights of Nigerians and their safety, irrespective of their ethno-religious or partisan backgrounds and affiliations.

It is so strange that the only restraining voices are those of some foreign missions in Nigeria. The United States Embassy, the British High Commission, and the Embassies of some European Union countries have stood strongly against ethnic profiling and violence in Nigeria, threatening the perpetrators with visa bans. We’ve come to depend on these countries to take the lead in sanctioning our erring “big men” who have placed themselves above our laws.

We condemn ethnic profiling and intimidation. Without deterrence, it could boil over one day and destabilise our country. The law enforcement agencies must wake up and do their jobs.