Redefining Terrorism In Nigeria: Hate Speech vs Hail Stitch

Redefining Terrorism In Nigeria: Hate Speech vs Hail Stitch

A Story by Ajogwu Jerry Ochada

A critical assessment of tagging hate speech as act of terrorism in Nigeria

One of the most significant feature of a democratic state is freedom of opinion but the impression created after the making of such speech may influence it to be gag in subsequent pursuit of freedom. Politically measured, constructive criticisms are welcomed by any government but this is centered on the perceptions of the key players who tends to rate and classify criticisms from either being constructive or destructive. Which ever way it is viewed, there are punitive measures clearly defined for every act of treasonable felony, calumny or speeches designed to incite violence. Be that as it may, aligning terrorism with hate speech is a sharp contrast to the tenets of democracy in all ramifications of understanding.

The masses plays the pivotal role in the emergence of every leader in the polls; no elected leader can exist and mount the podium as a solo candidate without having the overwhelming support of the masses with the exceptions of leaders that are imposed by a cabal or coronated by virtues of kinship even in such endeavours, loyalty and interest must interplay. Hence, the electorate should have a voice most especially in canvassing for credible leadership. His / her opinion may be perceived as a threat or destructive criticism but it should not be trashed out of context because in every non sense there is a sense.

The present scenario in Nigeria can be likened to a case study of a developing democracy where citizens are aware of their fundamental human rights to some greater extent but the rights is being misused either for personal or group gains. Last week, the Acting President, Prof Yemi Osinbanjo disclosed to the nation that henceforth every form of hate speech would be treated as an act of terrorism. His views may never be understood by many activists of human rights but it may have been spurred by the activities of social media miscreants (read my article titled Social Media Assassins And Mr President) who have switched from the conventional gossips and rumour mongering but are still propagating their lazy schemes on the new media owing to its efficacy in disseminating wide information.
To compensate the earlier remarks of Osinbanjo, President Muhammadu Buhari after his return from a medical vacation in London addressed the nation and he emphasised on the need for citizens to shun hate speech while imploring Nigerians to tread with caution not to cross the “national red line”. To ensure his seriousness in this regards, yesterday, the military received adequate orders to ensure that social media fallacies and attitudes tantamount to becloud the views of the citizenry is controlled and possibly muted. In the views of a realist, this is a welcome development owing to the fact that that many Nigerians are yet to understand the usage of the new media. The freedom they enjoy by the independence and suitability of their mobile data subscriptions tend to sponsor the evil crusade of writing at will, not just at will but in most assessments promoting falsehood without evidence just to cajole the solidarity gullible populace often graded as partners in crime. These deed can incite violence and it is now regarded as an act of terrorism. But, these views are not in tandem with the Freedom of Information bill (FOI) and there is an urgent need for government to chart a course employing the relativity of both guides before enforcing it. In other words, citizens should be adequately educated via the mass media before the enforcement of such laws other wise, human rights activists would criticise the moves and agitate for lesser penalties in no distant time.

Similarly, for the law on hate speech to hold sway, government should regard every form of sycophantic quest as act of criminality. The law must stipulate stringent punitive measures for praise singers who are killing the nation out of the abundance of greed and egocentric mount. The activities of sycophants can even alter the idiosyncrasies of good leaders thus they should not be taken likely. In the same vein, praise singers are sponsored by leaders to provide a hail stitch each time the former derails; they are hired to rebuild the image of leaders with the improvised aim of winning trust against all odds. Weighing both coins �" destructive agents of hate speeches and fallacy inclined proponents of hail stitch �" you will agree with me that both evil apostles are not contributing to the development of the nation and their periodic switch is suicidal, which is now contrasting the ideals of good leadership in Nigeria.

On the whole, government should enact laws that can guide citizen’s dialogue in line with the ethics of public opinion without negating the fundamental human rights of the masses. In the same vein, rating hate speeches as an act of terrorism is basically anchored on the perceptions of the authority in power. We must remember the old parlance “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter”. To balance the commission, undue praise singing by individuals or groups should equally be classified as anti people and it should be discouraged in strong terms.

God bless Nigeria!

© 2017 Ajogwu Jerry Ochada

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I read this with great interest as I strongly support "free speech" as laid out in my country's Constitution and as defined and interpreted by the judicial body assigned that task - our Supreme Court.
There is danger in "tagging" dissenting or opposing opinion as "hate speech". The line that differentiates the two can be fuzzy or even invisible to the less informed or uneducated, and a corrupt or power-hungry government can utilize said "tagging" to eliminate or discredit opposition. "Hate" speech must incite, support or encourage violence to truly be considered "hate" speech. All others are merely opposing or even new thought regarding the government, its laws, or whatever the subject matter is.
This is such a relevant topic, not just in our two countries, but all countries currently struggling to find the right balance of democratic ideals and the people they are meant to serve.
Your piece is well thought out, and clearly and concisely written.
Thank you for the reminder of an important aspect of our lives in my busy morning of relatively inconsequential details and tasks.

Posted 6 Years Ago

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Added on August 24, 2017
Last Updated on August 24, 2017


Ajogwu Jerry Ochada
Ajogwu Jerry Ochada

Federal Capital , Abuja , Nigeria

Ajogwu Jerry Ochada is a Nigerian. He studied History and International Relations as a discipline. Contact: +2348069643658 [email protected] more..