The Ekiti State Governor, Mr. Ayodele Fayose, has cautioned the Federal Government over its categorisation of hate speech as an act of terrorism.
The governor accused the All Progressives Congress of being 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 have 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.
The governor stated this in a statement issued in Ado Ekiti on Friday by his Special Assistant on Public Communications and New Media, Lere Olayinka.
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.
“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.
“What can be more treasonable than these statements made by President Buhari and his party?
“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 1,000 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 the hate speech.”
The governor advised that rather than a blanket criminalisation of 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.
He said, “While I am totally against hate speech and will support any effort to curb it, it is important to caution the Federal Government on the danger inherent in the blanket categorisation of hate speech as treasonable.
“I make bold to say that saying the truth concerning the country and its rulers cannot be termed as a hate speech.
“I only hope Nigeria is not being systematically returning 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 is termed as a hate speech as an act of terrorism is unconstitutional and an attempt to gag Nigerians, especially the press.
“From all intent and purposes, the Acting President’s pronouncement which is obviously not backed by any legislation is an attempt to provide reasons for an impending clampdown on the opposition. Nigerians will resist any attempt to mortgage their fundamental rights to freedom of expression under the guise of hate speeches.”
Meanwhile, Fayose on Friday swore in two new commissioners with a warning that they should not see themselves as ‘lords’ to the government and the people.
The two new commissioners are Chief Tunde Ogunleye (Water Resources) and Mr. Ayo Alabi (Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs).
Fayose, who was represented at the occasion by his deputy, Prof. Kolapo Olusola, advised the appointees to work assiduously to ensure that the state witnessed a tremendous development.
He reminded them that the people of the state voted overwhelmingly for the Peoples Democratic Party in 2014 with the hope that the hard-biting poverty among the populace could be mitigated.