Hate speech promoters got a warning yesterday – stop it or face the law.
Acting President Yemi Osinbajo said that those making hate speeches will henceforth be treated as terrorists.
He spoke in Abuja during the National Economic Council (NEC) Retreat on National Security, attended by governors and some ministers.
Stressing that government is tired of series of hate speeches going-on around the country, he said such speeches were categorised under the law as acts of terrorism.
Nigeria, Osinbajo said, has been beclouded with incitement capable of jeopardising peaceful coexistence.
He said: “Please permit me a comment on hate speech. The Federal Government has today drawn the line on hate speech. Hate speech is a specie of terrorism.
“Terrorism, as it is defined popularly is the unlawful use of violence or intimidation against individuals or groups, especially for political ends. The law, that is the Terrorism (Prevention) Act 2011 (as amended), defines terrorism as inter Alia, an act which is deliberately done with malice which may seriously harm or damage a country or seriously intimidate a population.
“The intimidation of a population by words, by speech is an act of terrorism and this government intends to take this matter very seriously. As I have said, we’ve drawn a line against hate speech, it will not be tolerated, it will be taken as an act of terrorism and all of the consequences will follow it.”
The Acting President urged business, religious and political leaders to condemn hate speech in the strongest possible terms at all times.
According to him, leaders who keep mum can only be seen as supporting the hate speeches.
Osinbajo said: “Hate speech, and the promotion of the same throughout history; from Nazi Germany and the extermination of Jews to the Rwandan genocide succeeded in achieving their barbarous ends by the silence of influential voices from the aggressor communities.
“When leaders in communities that speak in such a manner as to create dissension or to intimidate a population are quiet, they do a great disservice to our unity and nation.
“This is why I urge all of our political leaders, religious leaders, business leaders and all of those who truly want a united country and a country where there will be peace and security, to ensure that we do not tolerate by our silence the hate speech that we hear every day in our community.”
Stressing that the Constitution states that the primary purpose of government shall be the security and welfare of the people, Osinbajo quoted President Muhammadu Buhari as saying: “you cannot administer a country you have not secured.”
“Corruption and security are also interconnected. We are all witnesses to how, only a few years ago, much of North Eastern Nigeria was at risk of falling completely into the hands of Boko Haram, largely because widespread corruption in the military had robbed our troops of the resources and morale needed to fight and defeat the terrorists.
“Regarding this all-important issue of security in Nigeria, we all know what the issues are. In our lives as politicians and as elites; in our security meetings and confidential briefings, in news reports and editorials in the media, we are all daily confronted by the disturbing reality of Nigeria’s security situation.
Chief Justice of Nigeria Walter Onnoghen (CJN) pledged the commitment of the judiciary to doing things differently for a good society where peace and justice reign.
He said “I want to tell you also that though we also say that there are two sides to a coin, in reality, there are three sides to a coin. In our condition in terms of where we find ourselves today, it is my personal view that insecurity, corruption, and impunity are the three sides of the same coin which ought to be taken together holistically if we are to move the country forward.
Chairman of the Nigeria Governors Forum and Zamfara State Governor Abdulaziz Yari said that 99.9% of insecurity issues largely emanate from the states; only few are in the centre in Abuja.
He said: “It is the primary responsibility of government to secure lives and properties of its citizens. Governors are doing their best and the security chiefs can attest to that. We have been shouldering so many responsibilities of logistics in our separate states.
“If government will not achieve anything, it must achieve two things- fighting corruption and ensuring that they fix insecurity.
“We are still having some pockets of issues in the Northeast, which is Worrisome. In the last 12 months we were experiencing some kind of Progress, but, all of a sudden it resurfaced again. And also you will agree with me that the issue of security is two sides although the CJN said it is three sides. Security and the economy has to work together.
“The issue of insecurity is being supported by our teeming youths on thestreets and they are saying that anybody
“Government needs to deploy resources and encourage both those from the centre to employ those youths on the streets and take them out of the street so that they can have something good to engage them.
We have not been paying much attention to agriculture. In the last 10 years, only N400billion was invested from either the Central Bank of Nigeria or commercial banks or the capital markets.
“But in 2010, Amcon came to rescue banks with bad debts and over N4trillion was injected into Amcon and no much impact was made on agric. And even the Anchor Borrowers programme two years only N23billion has been invested for 200,000 farmers across the nation. In two years, N23billion can do nothing to the sector that we believe can give employment to 75% of Nigerians. Something has to be done.” he stated.