Osinbajo Meets Northern Leaders, Warns Trouble Makers
Acting President Yemi Osinbajo has met with Northern elders and leaders and warned against making hate speeches that could jeopardize the peace and unity of the country.
At the meeting which held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Tuesday, June 13, Osinbajo vowed to ensure that any form of divisive behaviour is met with the full force of the law.
Stressing that the government was determined to ensure the unity of Nigeria “along the lines of our constitution”, Osinbajo said:
“I want to say that hate and divisive speech or divisive behavior where it is illegal will be met with the full force of the law.
“I want to ensure that there is no doubt at all that it is the resolve of the government that none will be allowed to get away with making speeches that can cause sedition or that can cause violence especially because when we make these kinds of pronouncement and do things that can cause violence or destruction of lives and property we are no longer in control. Those who make those speeches are no longer in control.
“So I want to emphasise that government will take very seriously any attempts to cause violence or disrupt the peace of this country and that is very important because you cannot control violence once it begins”.
At the meeting, Osinbajo acknowledged that in the course of living together, misunderstandings and frustration are inevitable, but noted that “we can only begin to talk about any part of anything if we are together in peace.”
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He likened the emerging hate speeches from across the regions to stones thrown into the market which he said are likely to hit targets not intended.
“I need us to be fully conscious of that and the Nigerian people must be made to be fully conscious of that so that we do not create a crisis that is not intended. These days, wars do not end, and I am sure that those who have seen or experienced war in any shape or form will not wish it on their worst enemies,” Osinbajo said.
The meeting is coming as a result of the three-month ultimatum served by some youth groups in the north to all Igbo people asking them to leave the region. The meeting was the first phase of the government’s special engagements with regional leaders, including religious and traditional heads from the north and south-eastern part of the country in a bid to quickly arrest the emerging ethnic crisis.
The Acting President is expected to meet with leaders from the south-east on Wednesday, June 14 and on Friday hold a session with traditional rulers from the same area. The series of meetings will later be concluded on Sunday after meeting with traditional rulers from the north.
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Also in attendance at the meeting were the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara; National Security Adviser (NSA), Major General Babagana Mongunu (rtd); Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Gabriel Olonishakin; Chairman of Arewa Consultative Forum and former Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Comassie; Prof. Ango Abdullahi; former governor of Sokoto State, Aliyu Wammako; former deputy governor of Plateau State, Pauline Tallen; Publisher of Leadership , Sam Ndah-Isaiah; Deputy Leader, Northern Elders Forum, Wantaregh Paul Unongo; and former Chief of Defence Staff, General Martins Luther Agwai.