…Says govt is determined to ensure unity of Nigeria
By Johnbosco Agbakwuru
ABUJA—ACTING President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, yesterday, warned that the Federal Government would deal with individuals or groups spreading hate speeches capable of affecting the unity of the country.
Osinbajo, who stressed the determination of government to foster the unity of Nigeria, said the Federal Government would not allow such persons get away with their action.
The Acting President, who gave the warning when he met with Northern Elders, including Arewa Consultative Forum, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, appealed to all Nigerians to come together.
According to him, the Federal Government is capable of resolving all misunderstandings in the polity.
He said there would always be frustrations and misunderstandings when people live together, as some would always want to get the best, adding that getting the best deal would only be possible in an atmosphere of peace.
Stating that the present crop of leaders in the country owe the up-coming generation a duty to leave behind a peaceful and prosperous nation, Osinbajo said: “Every form of violence, every form of hate speech, any stone that is thrown in the market place will hit targets, which may 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.
“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 recognize that we can only begin to talk about any part of anything when 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 these are not for isolating ourselves. I want to urge all of us here and the entire Nigerian populace to come together and work together.
Hate and divisive speech’ll be met with full force
“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.
“And 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 kind of pronouncements 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 attempt to cause violence or disrupt the peace of this country. And that is very important because you cannot control violence once it begins.”
The meeting was attended by the Senate President, Bukola Saraki; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara; Chief of Defence Staff, Gen Gabriel Olanishakin; Chairman, Arewa Consultative Forum and former Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Comassie, as well as Prof. Ango Abdullahi, a member of ACF.
Others present at the meeting included former governor of Sokoto State, Aliyu Wamakko; former Deputy Governor of Plateau State, Pauline Tallen; Publisher of Leadership newspapers, Sam Ndah-Isaiah; Paul Unongo, Tijani Ramalan,Editor-in-Chief of Daily Trust, among others.
Meetings with stakeholders
After the Federal Executive Council meeting today, Osinbajo will also meet with South-East leaders of thought, including traditional rulers and religious leaders from the zone on Friday and their counterparts from the North on Sunday in efforts to nip any crisis arising from the threats and counter threats in the bud.
Osinbajo tasks security chiefs
Osinbajo had earlier directed the security chiefs to take proactive measures to ensure the protection of lives and property of all Nigerians everywhere.
The directive of the Acting President was contained in the Twitter post by his spokesman, Laolu Akande. Akande said his principal gave the directive at a meeting with the security chiefs over the weekend.
He tweeted: “The Acting President met, over the weekend, with security chiefs and gave them firm instructions on the need to protect lives and property of all Nigerians, everywhere.
“The Acting President will start a series of consultations with leaders of thought from the northern and eastern regions of the country this afternoon.
“He will first meet each group separately on different days this week and then meet them together after wards.”