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Ayo Fayose criticizes Federal Government over its categorization of hate speech as an act of terrorism

Ayo Fayose is not sitting well with the latest statement made by our Nigeria Federal Government that had to do with categorizing “hate speech” as “an act of terrorism.”

The Ekiti state governor—in a statement issued by his Special Assistant on Public Communications and New Media, Lere Olayinka—accused APC 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,” Fayose pointed out, adding, “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.”

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,” he stated. “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.”

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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.

“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,” he said. “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.”

Fayose continued, “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.”

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