The Nigerian government has declared hate speech as an act of terrorism and warned that it will, henceforth, treat those who indulge in the practice as terrorists.
Acting President Yemi Osinbajo stated this yesterday at the National Economic Council security retreat held at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
He said “intimidation of a population by words or speech is an act of terrorism and will no longer be tolerated by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration.”
“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.”
Osinbajo urged Nigerian businessmen, political and religious leaders to condemn “in the strongest possible terms, hate speeches that promote violence against an individual or a group, especially when such speech come from people of your own faith, tribe or group.
“When leaders speak in such a manner to create dissension or intimidate the population are quiet, they do a great disservice to our unity as a nation. Your silence in such situation can only be seen as an endorsement.
“This is why I urge all political leaders, religious leaders, business leaders and all of those who truly want a united 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 community.”
Although the acting president did not mention any name or groups in his speech, some of those who have been accused of hate speech include Nnamdi Kanu, leader of the secessionist pro-Biafra group, IPOB, and some northern youths who, in various audio speeches, have spread hate against Igbo.
Osinbajo said the primary purpose of government is to provide security and welfare of the people and, as such, the administration will not relent in the vision of a secured country in which all citizens can confidently aspire to achieve their means and ambition.
He reiterated that the vision of the Buhari administration covers three key areas, including security, economy and the fight against corruption.
He said without guaranteeing security, Nigeria will struggle to attract the kind of investments, domestic or foreign, needed to create jobs and prosperity for the people.
Osinbajo also spoke on community policing as part of measures towards addressing the issue of insecurity in the country.
“As you know, the community policing programme is one that the police has developed over the years; we expect that it takes root and all of our police formations across the country will engage their communities in a very creative way that the police have specified in the programme. And so we expect this will be a fundamental change in policing our country and that it will yield the kind of result we desire.
“It is also for this reason that the national economic council meeting, that brings together state governors and federal government, is an ideal forum for the kind of conversation that we are going to have today,” he said.