The Nigeria Federal government has classified hate speech as an act of terrorism and warned that it will, henceforth, prosecute those who indulge in it.
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who made this known today, Tuesday, said that henceforth, offenders of dangerous comments would be treated in accordance with the 2011 terrorism Act.
The minister, who spoke at the second National Conference of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in Kano, reminded Nigerians that government directive from National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to sanction any broadcast station who allows its airwave to be used as medium for promotion of hate speeches, is still in place.
According to Lai Mohammed, the Federal Government has continued to promote ethical standard and the core responsibility of the Journalism profession, but that an attempt to circumvent its rightful position in the society could be inimical to the national cohesion.
He said that the media as moulder of public opinions. has huge responsibility of preserving national unity, public values and peaceful co-existence.
“As gatekeeper, the media is expected in high hope to build responsible and lead vibrant societal development devoid of dangerous and hate speeches. The Federal Government will continue to promote and uphold ethical standard.”
Represented by the permanent secretary in the ministry, Grace Ita-Gekpe, the minister posited that as postulated by provisions of the constitution, freedom of expression and speeches privilege should not be abused. Declaring the conference open, Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje said national discuss on hate speeches cannot be considered more appropriate given the multiple challenges bedeviling the country’s unity and values. Ganduje applauded the union’s foresight and the choice of Kano to hold the national conference.
A member representing Gumel, Gagarawa Megatiri federal constituency in the House of Representatives, Mohammad Sani Soro advocated legislative intervention on social media to check the devastating act of hate speeches on the platform.
NUJ President, Abdulwaheed Odusile cautioned members while exercising their powers on desks to be mindful of national interest.
“As journalists and editors, we have the responsibility to keep out all manners of hate speeches and filter any traces inimical to our peaceful coexistence as a nation. “
Meanwhile, Kano State Government has said that the viral video of underage voters was shot during the 2015 election and belongs to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
The Commissioner for information, Mallam Mohammad Garba said: “the viral video contained scenes where INEC card readers was deployed and nothing of such was used in the last council poll in Kano.”
Garba maintained that beyond any orchestrated attempt to rubbish the poll, the last election was adjudged best in the history of council election in the state.
“The council poll in Kano was adjudged the freest in the history of council poll in Nigeria by both local and international observers, and I made bold to say that the controversial video belongs to INEC. Consequent upon rains of criticism, Chairman of INEC Professor, Yakubu last week constituted panel of inquiry to unravel the mystery behind the underage voting in Kano.