Fayose slams FG ‘hate speech’ classification
Acting President Yemi Osinbajo had on Thursday said hate speech peddling would be treated as acts of terrorism.
In a statement issued on Friday by his Special Assistant on Public Communications and New Media, Lere Olayinka, the governor accused the All Progressives Congress, APC, as the “number one promoter and beneficiary of hate speeches” in the country.
“When the APC was looking for power, several provocative statements were made. Nigerians are yet to forget President Muhammadu Buhari’s ‘the dog and the baboon would all be soaked in blood’ hate speeches and the threat by the APC to form a parallel government,” he said.
Mr. Fayose, who said he was totally against hate speech and would support any effort to curb it, added that it was important to caution the Federal Government on the danger inherent in the blanket categorisation of hate speech as treasonable.
The governor counselled that rather than blanket criminalising hate speeches, the federal government should embark on the reorientation of Nigerians, especially the youth on the consequences of hate speeches to the unity of the country and restore the confidence of the people in the government.
“I only hope Nigeria is not being systematically returned to the colonial days when the law of sedition was used to jail many of those who fought for our independence or the era of Buhari’s military regime when the notorious Public Officers (Protection Against False accusation) Decree 4 of 1984 was used to jail Tunde Thompson and Nduka Irabor, both of The Guardian newspapers for publishing what the government termed as false.
“Most importantly, going by the APC government’s use of the so-called anti-corruption fight to harass, intimidate, arrest and detain opposition figures, there is no doubt that categorising whatever that is termed as hate speech as an act of terrorism is unconstitutional and an attempt to gag Nigerians, especially the press.
“It should therefore not be seen that since the use of corruption to harass, arrest and detain opposition figures is no longer fashionable, hate speech will now be another instrument of oppression to be used against the opposition,” the governor said.
He added that the federal government had no moral or constitutional authority to be the judge for the categorisation.
“From all intent and purposes, the Acting President pronouncement which is obviously not backed by any legislation is an attempt to provide reasons for an impending clampdown on opposition and Nigerians will resist any attempt to mortgage their fundamental rights to freedom of expression under the guise of hate speeches.
“It is also on record that during the 2011 election campaign, President Buhari’s inciting statement led to widespread violence by his supporters in the North after he lost. Over 1000 people were slaughtered in cold blood, including innocent National Youth Service Corp members.
“Therefore, even if the APC government is sincere with its new found hatred for hate speeches, the APC government must first apologise to Nigerians for being the number one promoter and beneficiary of hate speech.”
The governor has been a notable critic of the present Federal Government.
He recently made a volte-face recently when he supported the government’s school feeding programme when he said it aligned with his ‘stomach infrastructure’ initiative aimed at putting food on the table of his people.
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