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Osinbajo Acting President says hate speech is terrorism

The Acting President said staying silent to hate speech is an endorsement of it.

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Professor Yemi Osinbajo play

Professor Yemi Osinbajo


Acting President Yemi Osinbajo has urged Nigerian leaders to speak out against hate speech in the country, branding it another form of terrorism.

Osinbajo voiced his concerns while speaking at the National Economic Council's Retreat on National Security  at the Presidential Villa on Thursday, August 17, 2017.

The retreat is a meeting of leaders, like state governors, Chief Justice of the Federation and other key government officials, to discuss the security challenges in the country.

While addressing the council, Osinbajo stressed that it is important for leaders in their capacities to always condemn hate speech as silence could be misinterpreted as an endorsement.

While speaking, the Acting President said, "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 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.

"I call on all business, religious and political leaders, whatever your political leaning, your religion or tribe or faith to condemn in the strongest possible terms at all times, hate speech.

"Speech that promotes violence against an individual or group, especially when such comes from people of your own faith, tribe or group, your silence in such situations can only be seen as an endorsement.

"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.

"In closing, let me remind you that our Constitution states that the primary purpose of government shall be the security and welfare of the people. And as President Buhari likes to say, "You cannot administer a country you have not secured." 

"We will not relent in our vision to ensure a secure country, in which all citizens can confidently aspire to achieve their dreams and ambitions. I am confident that today will mark an important milestone in the achieving that vision."

ALSO READ: Gov meets Northern elders, youths over quit notice to Igbos

Concerns about hate speech in the country has grown in the past few months with different ethnic groups agitating for secession from the country.

On June 6, 2017, a coalition of northern youths issued a threatening eviction notice to Igbos living in the north to vacate the region before October 1.

Despite widespread condemnation of the declaration, the directive has not been completely revoked by the coalition, thereby heightening tensions in the region as the deadline approaches.

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