We’ll treat hate speech as terrorism, Osinbajo warns

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Acting President Yemi Osinbajo yesterday declared that henceforth those found to be promoting hate speech would be treated as terrorists. “The Federal Government has today drawn the line on hate speech. Hate speech is a species of terrorism. Terrorism as it is defined popularly is the unlawful use of violence or intimidation against individuals or groups especially for political ends,” ‎he said.

Osinbajo spoke in Abuja during the National Economic Council (NEC) retreat on national security at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, which had in attendance state governors, ministers and other stakeholders. The acting president explained that such hate speeches would be categorised under the law as acts of terrorism.‎

He noted that the Terrorism (Prevention) Act 2011 (as amended), defined terrorism as an act which is deliberately done with malice which may seriously harm or damage a country or seriously intimidate a population. The acting president said the intimidation of a population by words is an act of terrorism, which he said the administration intends to curtail.

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“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,” he declared. While calling on all business, religious and political leaders, irrespective of their political or religious leaning, tribe or faith to condemn hate speech in the strongest possible terms at all times, Osinbajo said that silence on their part can be seen as an endorsement, especially when such comes from people of your own faith, tribe or group.

“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,” Osinbajo said.

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The Senate President, Bukola Saraki, on Tuesday also gave an indication that the upper chamber would speed up the passage of the Anti-Hate Speech and the Anti-Jungle Justice Bills as soon as they are presented to the parliament at resumption next month. He said the Senate would give the two bills an accelerated consideration in a bid to stem the rising cases of hate speech and jungle justice across the country.

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In his submission, the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen stressed the need to tackle the menace of insecurity, corruption and impunity, which he said, are three sides of the same coin which ought to be “taken together holistically” if the country must move forward.

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Also speaking, Governor of Zamfara State, and Chairman of Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), Abdullaziz Yari, ‎said there was the need for the government to pay attention to agriculture as a panacea to the ravaging insecurity in the country caused by the teeming youths on the streets.

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