By Sadiq Umar – Acting President Yemi Osinbajo Tuesday warned that government will deal with anyone or group that make divisive and hate speeches that threatens the corporate existence of the country.
Mr. Osinbajo gave the warning at a meeting with northern leaders at the State House, Abuja. Similar meeting with leaders from the south east is expected to hold tomorrow Wednesday.
The warning is coming on the heels of the 3-month quit notice given by some youth groups in the north to all Igbo people to vacate the region.
The notice by the northern youth groups was in reaction to agitations by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) for secession from the Nigeria federation.
“And I want to say that hate and divisive speech or divisive behavior where it is illegal will be met with the full force of the law,” Mr. Osinbajo warned Tuesday.
According to the acting President, “I want to ensure that there is no doubt at all that it is the resolve of the government that none will be allowed to get away with making speeches that can cause sedition or that can cause violence especially because when we make these kinds of pronouncement and do things that can cause violence or destruction of lives and property we are no longer in control.
“Those who make those speeches are no longer in control. So I want to emphasise that government will take very seriously any attempts to cause violence or disrupt the peace of this country and that is very important because you cannot control violence once it begins,” he said.
“Every form of violence, every form of hate speech and any stone that is thrown in the marketplace will hit targets that are going to be deadly. So I need us to be fully conscious of that and the Nigerian people must be made to be fully conscious of that so that we do not create a crisis that is not intended,” he said.
“As part of living together, I know that misunderstandings and frustrations will always arise and people will always want to get the best part of the deal but we must be careful to recognise that we can only begin to talk about any part of anything is we are together in peace. These days, wars do not end and I am sure that those who have seen or experienced war in any shape or form will not wish it on their worst enemies.
“This is not a time to retreat behind ethnic lines, moments like this are not for isolating ourselves, I want to urge all of us here and the entire Nigerian populace to come together and work together.
“As a government, we are determined to ensure the unity of the country along the lines of our constitution and I want to say that hate and divisive speech or divisive behaviour where it is illegal will be met with the full force of the law.
“So I want to empathise that government will take very seriously any attempts to cause violence or disrupt the peace of this country. And that is very important because you cannot control violence once it begins.”
Prominent leaders at the meeting include: Senate President Bukola Saraki; Speaker House of Reps, Yakubu Dogara; Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari; Chief of Defence Staff, Gabriel Olonishakin; Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris;former Sokoto Governor, Aliyu Wammako.
Others are: former Vice Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University, Ango Abdullahi; former Plateau Deputy Governor, Pauline Tallen; Leadership Newspapers’ Publisher, Sam Ndah-Isaiah; Chairman Freedom Radio, Tijani Ramalan and Paul Unogo.