HATE SPEECHES: Osinbajo meets with South- East Elders, reiterates Government’s Resolve to prosecute Offenders
By Festus Fifen.
Sequel to the consultative meeting with Northern Elites on Tuesday concerning the series of hate and counter hate speeches emanating from the North and the South Eastern part of Nigeria, Acting President Yemi Osinbajo has again met with leaders of Thoughts from the southeastern part of The country.
The meeting which is one of the series of consultative meetings between the federal government and stakeholders from the troubled region is aimed at putting an end to hate speeches and statements of secession in the country.
Speaking at the opening session before they went into a closed door session Acting President Yemi Osinbajo said These consultations are necessary, and important, because of recent events in the country which has led to loud and sometimes hostile agitations by youth in the southeast, calling for secession of the region from Nigeria and the recent ultimatum issued by a group of youth from the North, asking all south-easterners living in the North to leave by October 1this year.
In his words, ” Both of these expressions and agitations from both sides, have been attended with some controversial and hateful vituperations including patently illegal and violence-inducing remarks.”
” I firmly believe that we ought to address these agitations and proclamations urgently and decisively. Burying our heads in the sand and expecting the storm to blow over of their own accord is not an option.”
Prof. Osinbajo who said it is in our bid, as government, to deal with these pressing issues and grievances, that he has convened this series of consultations, with various groups, added that the federal government will never shy away from the responsibility to ensure and uphold the peace and security of Nigeria.
” It is in my view the role and responsibility of those privileged in society to be leaders to chart a progressive and lofty course for the ordinary people. As leaders, we carry the burden to secure the peace, progress and prosperity of our people, and that is why our voices ought to be heard and heard loud and clear at moments like this in the defense and articulation of what is truly beneficial to the nation and the people, and what is right and patriotic.
“Our dear nation has gone through some really difficult times. We have survived bloody coups, several rounds of ethno-religious violence, and emerged from a long and bloody Civil War. All of us here have seen close-up what violence can do to a country, and I believe I speak for us all when I say that no one here is keen to see Nigeria embroiled in violence or bloodshed of any kind.”
” Especially not when we are only just emerging from a brutal insurgency that has consumed more than 20,000 of our brothers and sisters and children, as well as the better part of a decade.
” One thing is clear – violence and war are terrible things. They are easy to start but near impossible to end. Indeed you’re all aware of the Igbo proverb that says that “A man who rushes into battle does not realize that battle entails death.” We are witnesses to the unspeakable devastation that war continues to inflict across the world. No one who has seen the horrors of war – even just on television – would wish it on their worst enemy.”
” Knowing this, under no conditions whatsoever should we tolerate or excuse or justify hate speech or hateful conduct of any kind, especially where such is illegal. Let me of course acknowledge that as part of living together in this space called Nigeria, misunderstandings and frustrations are inevitable. Because resources are limited there will always be a striving to get what is perceived as the best seat at the table.”
” Yesterday I made it very clear that hate or divisive speech, or divisive behaviour, where it is illegal, will be met with the full force of the law. I will say it again today: Let there be no doubt whatsoever of the resolve of government to ensure that no one will be allowed to get away with making speeches that can cause division or violence. We will take very seriously any attempts to cause violence or to disrupt the peace of Nigeria. And we will not tolerate such.
“We are also resolute in our determination to protect every Nigerian, everywhere in the country.”
“We will do everything within our power to defend and uphold the terms of our constitution, which declares that we are one nation under God.”
Some of those present at the meeting were Senate President Bukola Saraki, Speaker of the House of Representatives Yakubu Dogara, all the 5 south east governors, chief of staff to the president Abba Kyari, Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, NSA, chief of defence staff, service chiefs, IGP, and ministers.
Others are former Senate President Ken Namani, Senator Eyinaya Abaribe, Chief Chukwuemeka Ezeife, Catholic Bishop of Awka Bishop Okoye, Igwebike Onah Catholic archbishop of Nssuka, Senator Joy Emordi and Professor Viola Nwuleri