A group, Igbo Board of Deputies, has asked the Presiding Pastor of Citadel Global Community Church in Lagos, Nigeria, Pastor Tunde Bakare to, within 7 days, withdraw the allegation that Igbos were cursed by the First Republic Prime Minister, Mallam Tafawa Balewa or be prepared for legal action nationally and internationally.
Pastor Bakare was quoted to have said: “On the day the late Tafawa Balewa was killed, the Igbo soldiers arrested him, removed his turban, poured wine on his head, and forced him to drink and shot him. While he was being killed, he cursed the Igbo race; that they would never govern Nigeria”
However, the Igbo Board of Deputies, while describing the statement as “hate speech, and incitement of genocide against the Igbo people of Nigeria” said it has waited reverently for Lent and Easter period to end before addressing a letter on the issue to him.
The letter, dated 19th April 2022, was written on behalf of the group by Austin Okeke Esq of Okeke Attorneys Johannesburg, South Africa, noted: “We have waited reverently for Lent and Easter period to end before addressing this letter to you. It is our instruction not to join you in the desecration of a very sacred and holy Lenten season; it is the bedrock of the Christian faith all over the world. Your hate speech and your premeditated incitement designed for ethnic cleansing of the Igbo people in Nigeria were aired and viewed right at the heart of Lent. You are a pastor of a church indeed.
“We have waited without success for you to, own your accord, recant your hate speech and/or withdraw the incitement of genocide against the Igbo people. Your speech on the day was well thought out, planned, and executed to achieve the purpose it was designed. These comments were made deliberately at a very fragile and tense period in the history of Nigeria when insecurity and killings are rife.
“We are advised that on and about April 2022, you on the pulpit of Citadel Global Community Church in Lagos, Nigeria “your church” and before a multitude of congregants, worshippers, and viewers all over the world, made inciting comments against the Igbo people in the following manner: “On the day the late Tafawa Balewa was killed, the Igbo soldiers arrested him, removed his turban, poured wine on his head, and forced him to drink and shot him. While he was being killed, he cursed the Igbo race; that they would never govern Nigeria”
“We are of the view that your comments on the day were calculated to rouse and stoke hatred against the Igbo by a region of the country. These were the sort of falsehood sold to other regions of Nigeria as part of the hate campaign that justified and resulted in the mass murder of Igbos and subsequent pogrom before, during and after the 1967 Nigeria-Biafra civil war that reportedly claimed over 3 million Igbo lives.
“We are advised that your account of the 1966 military coup and in particular, the death of the then Prime Minister of Nigeria, Alhaji Tafawa Balewa is false because you were not present and therefore cannot qualify as a credible witness.
“In this circumstance, we have been instructed to demand from you, as we hereby do, to recant your statements using the same pulpit within 7 days from the date hereof. Failing which, we have instructions to approach the appropriate forum, both local and international, for all available legal relief. These actions shall be on your account.
“We hope the above does not become necessary, and we do not wish you to enter into this quagmire.
“Kindly note that our clients shall enforce their rights and their resolution within the ambit of both domestic and international laws, unless and until you have publicly withdrawn your false comments”, the letter read in part.