Published On: Fri, Aug 18th, 2017

Hate Speech Is Terrorism, Leaders’ Silence Amount To Endorsement, Osinbajo Warns

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By Sadiq Umar – The Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo has urged leaders in Nigeria to promptly condemn hate speech regardless of faith or creed, declaring it as an act of terrorism that must not be tolerated.

Mr. Osinbajo who warned against silence by religious and political leaders when hate speeches are made, noted that such silence amounts to endorsement of the act.

“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.”

The acting President spoke at the National Economic Council (NEC), National Security Retreat, at the Banquet Hall of The State House, Abuja, Thursday.

“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.

He further warned that government has drawn the line on hate speech, reiterating the resolve of the Buhari administration to deliver on its constitutional responsibility of ensuring the security and welfare of the people.

“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.

The acting President said the administration has directed the Inspector General of Police to begin step to implement its programme of “Community Policing,” adding that government at the state level must cooperate to ensure its success.

“But let me just reiterate an important fact, one of the reasons why the National Economic Council is so important is because the framers of our Constitution recognise that that the Federal Government alone cannot solve Nigeria’s security or economic challenges. Security is a collective enterprise, requiring the harmonization of efforts from all three tiers and branches of Government, and from the private sector, civil society and indeed the general public as well.

“Yesterday, we took an important step in incorporating all of our society into this security issue and into the fight against insecurity in our country. Pursuant to our Constitution, I issued a directive to the Inspector General of Police to constitute the Community Policing Programme. As you know the Community Policing Programme is one that the Police itself had developed over the years.

“But by this directive, we expect that the community Policing Programme will take root and take effect and all of our Police formations across the country will engage their communities in the very creative ways the Police themselves have prescribed in the Community Policing programme.

“We expect that this will be a fundamental change in the way that policing is carried out in our country and that it will yield the kinds of results that we expect.

“The Buhari administration has already set a pattern of engagement and collaboration with Governors, and we are committed to maintaining this atmosphere of frank engagement.

“You are aware that this was not always the case; and prior to this administration, the National Economic Council had not exactly fulfilled its obligations as an economic council because of the unending series of conflicts between the Federal and State Governments over very many issues.

“But we are determined to do things the right way, to be transparent in our dealings with you, to respect your views, regardless of partisan or ideological affiliations, and to join hands with you to create positive change in the lives of all our people,” he added.

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