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Bill against hate speech underway, says Dambazzau


Minister of Interior, Dambazzau

• ‘Hate songs against Igbo can cause war’
• Militants vow to declare Niger Delta Republic October 1

Punishment awaits perpetrators of hate speech as the Federal Government has concluded plans to enact a legislation aimed at curtailing the menace in the polity.A bill initiated by the Ministry of Interior would soon be presented to the National Assembly by the office of the Justice Minister and Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN). 

The Minister of Interior, Lt. Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazzau, disclosed this to reporters after he had a closed-door discussion with members of the Chief John Odigie-Oyegun-led National Working Committee of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) at the national secretariat of the party in Abuja.

Decrying the recurring incidence of hate speech in the polity, Dambazzau hinted that severe punishment awaits any person found guilty of perpetrating the act once the legislation sails through in the National Assembly.

“Hate speech should not be allowed in this country. Everybody is entitled to belong to his religion, the religion he believes in.Everybody is entitled to his faith. When we were born, we didn’t choose the tribe we want to belong to.

“That is how God brought us to the world. And there is absolutely no reason for hate speech or hating anybody whatsoever. So if the National Assembly passes that law, certainly anybody who is engaged in hate speech would be prosecuted in accordance with the law.”

On the same day that the Federal Government was contemplating a law to banish hate speech, yet another group, Coalition of Niger Delta Agitators gave an ultimatum to Nigerians of the northern and south west extractions to vacate their region before October 1 this year.

The agitators, comprising eight groups from the oil rich region, dissociated themselves from the deal struck by the Chief Edwin Clarke-led Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) with the Federal Government on the need to keep peace in the oil-rich region.

The group, which demanded the return of oil wells allotted to non-indigenes of the region to Niger Deltans expressed their resolve to declare Republic of Niger Delta on October 1, this year,

The group, in a statement made available to The Guardian, threatened to resume the bombings of major oil and gas installation in the region.They also lauded other separative movements that had expressed the intention to declare Oduduwa , and Biafra Republic respectively.

Among the groups and their leaders that endorsed the statement were General John Duku (Niger Delta Watchdogs and Convener Coalition of Niger Delta Agitators); General Ekpo Ekpo (Niger Delta Volunteers); General Osarolor Nedam (Niger Delta Warriors) and Major-Gen. Henry Okon Etete (Niger Delta Peoples Fighters).

Others were Major-Gen. Asukwo Henshaw for Bakassi Freedom Fighters; Major-Gen. Ibinabo Horsfall for Niger Delta Movement for Justice; Major-Gen. Duke Emmanson for Niger Delta Fighters Network and Major-Gen. Inibeghe Adams for Niger Delta Freedom Mandate.

The statement reads: “At the general council meeting of the Coalition of Niger Delta Agitators (CNDA) involving surveillance department, intelligence department and commanding officers held today to deliberate on the recent development in the Niger Delta and Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) meeting with the Acting President, after hours of careful deliberations, we unanimously resolved as follows:

“To commence Operation Zero Oil in the Niger Delta from September 10, 2017 as a preparation for the actualisation of Niger Delta Republic.“We totally condemn the recent meeting between PANDEF and the Acting President; we see it as another plot to deceive the Niger Delta people. First and foremost, the meeting was marred with inordinate greed of the PANDEF as they did not involve the representatives of the Agitating groups and youths leaders. We wish to let the Acting President to know that those he met have no capacity and cannot solve the current crisis in the Niger Delta; therefore they cannot represent the militants or speak for the Niger Delta people.“The Coalition unanimously adopts to stand by the previous demands, which are: 100 per cent control of our resources.

“The Federal Government should hand over all oil blocks owned by the Northerners/Yorubas to Niger Delta indigenes.“All Oil companies operating in such oil blocks/wells should vacate October 1, 2017.’’

Meanwhile, the Federal Government has been charged to consider a political solution to resolve the continued detention of Henry Okah, his brother and several others incarcerated in the wake of the October 1, 2010 bombing in Abuja.The Convener of a pan Nigerian group, the Niger Delta People’s Congress, Chief Mike Loyibo, in Yenagoa, Bayelsa state, said the Federal Government needs to act fast in the interest of sustainable peace and justice.

Henry Okah is already serving 24-year jail term in South Africa for allegedly masterminding a series of terror attacks, including twin bombings, which killed 12 people in the Nigerian capital Abuja during Independence Day celebrations in 2010.His younger brother, Charles Okah, and several other Niger Delta are being held in Kuje Prison over the same crime.He said their continued suffering was injustice to the Niger Delta people, stressing that they would not take it any more.

Also, the National Orientation Agency (NOA) warned perpetrators of hate songs against the Igbo to desist, saying they could lead to war.The Director General of NOA, Dr. Garba Abari, who gave the warning at a press conference yesterday in Abuja, said the agency was in possession of the songs recorded by some northern elements to preach hatred against other ethnic groups.

“Two out of these songs are in mass circulation on the social media, particularly on Facebook and YouTube. The latest was released three days ago. We are also aware that messages from members of the Independent Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) have continually been filled with hate and derision for other ethnic communities,” he said.

According to Abari, the trend appears to give the impression that Nigerians have not learnt anything from the civil war.“The 30-month civil war of July 1967 to January 1970, in which over two million of our compatriots lost their lives, was preceded by intolerance and a series of hate speeches, conducts and actions inflicted upon one another by the citizens. Today, many older Nigerians still carry within their bodies, a deep sense of nostalgia and the pains of injuries from the civil war.”

He explained that the Federal Government is committed to its constitutional obligation to ensure the safety and security of all Nigerian citizens wherever they may be.He said government would take all necessary measures to protect lives and property in the face of the situation.

In this article:
Abdulrahman Dambazzau
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