Acting president Yemi Osinbajo, on Wednesday warned those who have been engaging in hate speeches to desist, as the federal government won’t take such act lightly noting war begins with words, Punch reports.
Osinbajo gave the warning at a meeting with leaders of the South-East at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Some of those present at the meeting were the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, and some state governors from the South-East.
The governors included Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu); David Umahi (Ebonyi); Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia); Willy Obiano (Anambra) and Rochas Okorocha (Imo).
Others at the meeting were the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu; former Senate President, Ken Namani; Senator Eyinaya Abaribe; and Chief Chukwuemeka Ezeife among others.
He said; “It is clear that wars sometimes start, not with bullets, but with words. Hateful, incendiary speech, open floodgates of blood. The tongue, like the pen, is often mightier than the sword – because it is what pushes the sword into action.
“When we throw words like stones in a marketplace we do not know who or what it will hit.
“Knowing this, under no condition whatsoever should we tolerate or excuse or justify hate speech or hateful conduct of any kind, especially where such is illegal.
“Let me, of course, acknowledge that as part of living together in this space called Nigeria, misunderstandings and frustrations are inevitable and because resources are limited there will always be a striving to get what is perceived as the best seat at the table.
“All of that is normal and to be expected, especially in a democracy, like ours. A healthy democracy ought to be a theatre of energetic striving by all parties and stakeholders. But things should never descend to a level where mutual suspicions override the desire to live together in peace and harmony.”
Osinbajo also said he had told the elders from the North on Tuesday that hate or divisive speech, or divisive behaviour, where it was illegal, would be met with the full force of the law.
He said the government would take such behaviour seriously and would not tolerate any attempts to cause violence or to disrupt the peace of Nigeria.