Nigerian govt to treat hate speech as terrorism – Osinbajo

Nigerian govt to treat hate speech as terrorism – Osinbajo
August 17 17:56 2017

By Ahmed Idris

Acting President Yemi Osinbajo on Thursday said that the federal government had drawn a line on hate speech and would treat it as an act of terrorism.

Osinbajo said this at the opening session of a Security Summit organised by the National Economic Council (NEC) at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.

He said: “The federal government has drown a line on hate speech. Hate speech is a specie of terrorism as it is defined popularly as the unlawful use of violence or intimidation against individuals or groups especially for political aims. The law on hate speech, terrorism Act 2011, defines hate speech amongst other definitions as an act deliberately done with malice and which may seriously harm or damage a country or seriously intimidate a population.

“The intimidation of a population by words, speech is an act of terrorism and this government intends to take this matter seriously. As I have said we have 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. I call on business, political and religious leaders, whatever your political leanings or religion or tribe or faith, to condemn in the strongest possible terms at all times hate speeches.

“Speech that promote violence against an individual or a group especially when such speech come from people of your own faith, tribe or group. Your silence in such situation can only be seen as an endorsement. Hate speech and promotion of the same throughout history from Nazi in Germany to the extermination of the 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 to create dissection or intimidate the population are quiet, they do a great disservice to our unity, they do a great disservice to our nation.

“This is why I urge all political leaders, religious leaders, business leaders and all of those who truly want a united country, a country where there will be peace and security to ensure that we do no tolerate by our silence the hate speech that we hear every day in community.

“Let me remind all of us that our constitution states that the primary purpose of government be the the security and welfare of our people. And as President Buhari use to say and I quote “we cannot administer a country you have not secured.” We will not relent in our vision of a secured country in which all citizens can confidently aspire to achieve their means and ambition. And I am confident that today mark an important milestone in achieving that vision.”

The Acting President called on business, religious and political leaders to condemn hate speech in strongest terms especially when such speech came from people of their faith, tribe or group.

He said silence on such speech could only be seen as an endorsement, adding that throughout history, promoters of hate speeches succeeded in achieving their barbarous ends by silencing influential voices from the aggressor communities.

Osinbajo said when leaders in communities were made to be quite, it constitutes a great disservice to the unity of the nation.

He said the primary aim of the government was to secure the lives and property of citizens, adding that the present administration would not relent in achieving that vision.

Osinbajo said there was the need to fight poverty by all tiers of government in order to tackle insecurity.

He said that the Inspector General of Police has been directed to constitute a community policing programme to ensure inclusion of all communities in creative ways towards improving security in the country.

“Yesterday (Wednesday) we took an important step in incorporating all of our society into the fight against insecurity issue and into the fight against insecurity in our country. In pursuance with the constitution, I issued a directive to the Inspector General of Police to constitute a community policing programme.

“As you know the community policing programme is one that the police itself has developed over the years, we expect that the community policing would take root and take effect and that all of our police formations across the country will engage their communities in a very creative way that the police themselves have specified in the community policing programme,” he said.

The retreat was attended by governors of the 36 states of the federation, National Security Adviser (NSA), Maj. Gen. Babagana Monguno (rted); Director General of State Security Service (SSS), Mr. Lawan Daura; Chief of Defence Staff, Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Air Staff, Chief of Naval Staff, Inspector General of Police and other top government officials.