Jude Owuamanam Managing Editor, Northern Operations
Abuja (Sundiata Post) – Human Rights Group, International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law, (Intersociety) has described President Muhammadu Buhari and his Vice Prof Yemi Osinbajo, as architects of hates killings and speeches Nigeria.
The group, in a statement sent to Sundiatapost in Abuja on Tuesday, said that nothing aptly captured their assertion than the president’s address to Nigerians on his return after more than three months of medical treatment in London
The statement, which was signed by The Board Chairman, Barrister Emeka Umeagbalasi; Head, Democracy and Good Governance Program, Barrister Chinwe Umeche, and Head, Civil Liberties and Rule of Law Program, Obianuju Igboeli, said that inciting presidential pronouncements; namely: Vice President Yemi
Osinbajo’s misinterpretation of the regional and international meaning
of hates speeches and returnee President Muhammadu Buhari’s war-like
and militarized State of the Federation broadcast have further exposed
how the democracy challenged Government breeds hates killings and
speeches and secessionism by way of security radicalization, inaction,
misinterpretation and selective application of the Nigeria’s Body of
Laws especially the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria
Intersociety observed that most, if not all Nigerians and the State actor and non-State actor
members of the international community have continued to express
shocks and disbelief over the presidential and private attitudes in
recent times of the person and office of the Vice President of
Nigeria, Mr. Yemi Osinbajo-a professor of law and SAN (Senior Advocate
Intersociety argue that though professorship of law does not confer on its bearer the status
of the master of all in law knowledge and profession; a
dispensable authority in a very small unit of a sub law discipline;
yet the above named attentive and respected members of the modern
global community especially the citizens of Nigeria and all lovers of
democracy and its free society/speeches have expected Professor Yemi
Osinbajo to serve as soothing point and chief intellectual backbone
for the person and office of Nigeria’s President; as they concern the
leadership and management of the country’s democracy,
constitutionalism, development, human living, environment, rule of law
and human rights.
The statement said, ” Disappointedly, Professor Yemi Osinbajo as a vice president, senior
advocate of Nigeria, pastor of a Pentecostal church, human rights
activist and professor of law has failed woefully and disappointed
Nigerians and the entire global community. In a country governed by
the Constitution and numerous ratified regional and international
treaties as well as various codified laws of the country, the Vice
President has continuously since 2015 imposed on all Nigerians his
personal biases and highly sentimental views as the new laws of
Nigeria. In the immortal words of the late Music icon, Mr. Fela
Anikulapo Kuti; Professor Yemi Osinbajo has become a teacher who
teaches Nigerians nonsense!
Totally alarmed and condemned are Professor Osinbajo’s recent
undemocratic and biased interpretation of hates speech and his
description of same as “act of terrorism”. We not only view the Vice
President’s pronouncement with uttermost suspicion but also fear that
it is targeted at shutting the country’s democratic forces and
exponents of free society especially based or hailed from the
South-south and Southeast Nigeria. Mr. Vice President/Law Professor
had not long ago given such warped interpretations to some sensitive
sections of the Constitution.
Nigerians and Nigeria are yet to recover from the controversial
interpretation by the same Vice President of Section 171 of Nigeria’s
1999 Constitution with respect to whether Nigeria’s Senate can confirm
or not the chairmanship nominee for the Economic and Financial Crimes
Commission (EFCC). The Vice President had claimed that the Senatorial
confirmation is not needed for all appointive headships of the Federal
extra ministerial bodies covered by Section 171.
Yet the EFCC Act of 2004 in its Section 2 (3) provides for the
confirmation of its Chairmanship nominee by the Senate. This was after
the Presidency had sent the name of Mr. Ibrahim Magu twice to Senate
for confirmation as the substantive Chairman of the EFCC. This has
made Mr. Magu as the longest serving federal government political
appointee in acting capacity in the history of Nigeria and its
acclaimed democratic rule.
Yet, it was the same Presidency that recently or much longer after,
sent another name to Senate to be confirmed as the Chairman of the
Nigerian Electricity Regulations Commission (NERC). NERC is another
extra ministerial body created or covered by Section 171 of Nigeria’s
1999 Constitution. Since then, there have been controversies after
controversies on account of the Vice President Osinbajo’s biased
interpretational pronouncement. The controversies got compounded on
account of the refusal by the Presidency and the Attorney General of
the Federation (AGF) to refer the issue, early enough, to the Supreme
Court for resolution.
“On the other hand, we see the Vice President’s recent description of
“hates speech in Nigeria” as “act of terrorism” not only as
militarist, draconian and unconstitutional; but it is also nothing
short of the return of Decrees 2 and 4 of 1984. Though hates speech
especially incitement to genocide is considered as a crime under the
International Criminal Court (ICC) and the international law proper,
but this is not yet criminalized and codified in Nigeria in clearly
defined terms and procedures.
“Contrary to Professor Yemi Osinbajo’s claim that hates speech is an
act of terrorism in Nigeria, hates speech has nothing whatsoever to do
with Nigeria’s Terrorism and its Prevention Act of 2011 (amended in
2013). No part of section of the Act clearly and unambiguously says
Besides, Nigeria’s body of criminal laws and their procedures do not
recognize mens rea (guilty mind) alone as a crime except it is
accompanied by actus reus or guilty act. Internationally, to be called
a crime of hates speech (i.e. incitement to genocide), its intent must
be irrefutably established printably or electronically with direct
link to its specific targeted genocidal population.
The Vice President’s referenced biased interpretation further offends
the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria especially
subsections 8 and 12 of its Sections 36; which forbids arrest,
detention, trial, conviction and sentencing of any citizen over an
offense that is not clearly written down in a written and constituted
an offense at the time of such arrest, detention, trial and
sentencing; with its penalties clearly written, defined and
Difference exists between a tribal group issuing a genocidal threat
with a public quit notice targeted at over 11million guest residents
and another agitating nonviolently for a statehood or a sovereign or
general peoples’ conference; without any form of genocidal threat
against its co-tribe; to determine how and whether to live together or
apart. Nationally, regionally and internationally, the former
presently receiving government protection, aiding and abetting; are
offenders of the crime of genocidal incitement.
For purposes of clear understanding and putting the records straight,
hates speech is speech which attacks a person or group on the basis of
attributes such as race, religion. It is further defined as an
advocacy of hatred based on nationality, race or religion; which has
occupied an exceptional position in international law including the
Rome Statute of 1998, ratified by Nigeria in 2001. A major component
of hates speech is called direct and public incitement to genocide
which was one of the key charges laid against defendants in the
International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in the case of its 1994
“In defining what constitutes hates speech, therefore, extreme is
always taken. In the case of the Rwandan anti Genocide Tribunal, for
instance, the Tribunal elaborated somewhat on the definition of the
crime (hates speech). In the particular case of the Prosecutor v.
Nahimana, Barayagwiza, & Ngeze, it stated that the defendant’s intent
must be established.
“The International Law also recognizes the inherent dignity and
equality of every individual as the foundational axiom of
international human rights. It is upon this that it condemns
statements which deny the equality of all human beings. Article 20(2)
of the ICCPR (Int’l Covenant on Civil & Political Rights) requires
states to prohibit hate speech, but does not require states to
prohibit all negative statements towards national groups, races or
religions but, as soon as a statement “constitutes incitement to
discrimination, hostility or violence,” it must be banned.
That is to say that while we condemn hates speeches locally and
internationally, our rise in strong condemnation of Professor
Osinbajo’s latest pronouncement of hates speech as “act of terrorism”
is strongly based on the likelihood of the present Buhari/Osinbajo
Administration brutally eroding constitutional liberties and
democratic free speeches hiding under the cover of “fight against
hates speech”. Advocacy silence over this could also give the
Administration room to run riot on Nigerians using “hates speech”.
This is more so when the same Government has now created its own
version of “hates speech” and terrorized it without codification or
A central Government that arrested since 14th December 2015 and
detained till date without trial aging Nigerian husband and wife for
their religious beliefs; after battering their bodies with live
bullets and killing over 1000 of their sect members; cannot be allowed
a breathing space in its latest pronouncement and magisterial
criminalization of hates speech as an “act of terrorism”.
Yesterday’s Monday morning national broadcast by the returnee
President of Nigeria has further added more salt to the injury and
confirmed the real motives behind Professor Yemi Osinbajo’s
terrorization of “hates speech”. The broadcast was riddled with
threats of State violence, militarism and militarization and general
state of hopelessness for all Nigerians.
The broadcast also was anti free speech and a ferocious attack on
Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution especially its Section 22 (roles of all
agents of the mass media in defending, advancing and promoting
democracy and civil governance) and Section 39 (freedom of
Intersociety posited that the posture of the Buhari led administration further lent credence to the fact that Nigeria is not a democratic
free society or civil government, but a fully fledged malevolent
diarchy government with deployment of battalions of soldiers or
military in 28, out of its 36 States.
The statement added that the returnee President’s
broadcast has further put Nigerians in quandary and hopelessness.
Nigerians had expected their returnee President, to no avail, to
openly acknowledge and apologize; with packages of practical
solutions, that road routes from Enugu to Port Harcourt, Enugu to
Abuja, Edo to Abuja, Onitsha to Kaduna, Kaduna to Katsina, Lagos to
Ibadan, Asaba to Warri; to mention but few, have become nightmare.
Nigerians also expected returnee President Buhari, all to no avail, to
tell them how trillions of naira worth of central “budgets” since June
2015 have touched their lives tangibly and intangibly.
“In all, the truth that must be told is that it is the central
Government of Buhari/Osinbajo; and not ordinary Nigerians that breeds
hates speeches and killings and secessionism through its policies of
security radicalization, inaction, misinterpretation and selective
application of the laws of Nigerian.
By way of government security radicalization through militarism,
militarization, trumped up charges, over-criminalization, unlawful
killings, extra judicial executions, torture, enforced disappearances
and arrest and long detention without or before trial; the
Buhari/Osinbajo’s Government had since June 2015 bred citizens’
militancy, radicalism, ethnic chauvinism, ethno-religious divisions
and disunity. By way of Government inaction including omissions, aiding, abetting
and tolerance of illegalities, crimes and group violence; especially
in matters of ethnic violence and government aided mass murder; hates
speeches and killings are bred by the same Government with their
consequential ethno-religious divisions, mass poverty, undergrowth and
under-development. This was exactly the eruption of the Rwandan
Genocide of 1994.
By way of Government misinterpretation of the laws especially
Nigeria’s 1999 Constitution, the return to the state of nature or
banana republic is bred and nurtured by same. As a result of same,
too, citizens begin to explore loopholes for the purpose of using them
to suit their malicious intents and purposes or whims and caprices as
well as manipulating and disobeying the laws with reckless abandon.
The key danger of selective application or enforcement of the national
laws is the disadvantaged or victim citizens’ resort to self help and
reprisal radicalization and other socially inimical approaches.
The most recent clear cases in point are the returnee President’s
broadcast where he deliberately and merely described well organized
and one of the world’s deadliest terrorist groups (Fulani terror group
and its violent activities) as “Fulani herdsmen-Farmers’ clash”. The
second clearest case in point was the Northern elders backed quit
notice against over 11million Igbo citizens residing in Northern
Nigeria; which the central Buhari/Osinbajo’s Government has refused to
act on punitively till date”, the statement said.