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Hate Speech Bill: Those Misinforming Nigerians Are Ignorant – Senator Sabi Abdullahi

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Deputy Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, has said that opponents of the Hate Speech Bill are ignorant of the dangers that loom if the bill is not passed into law.

In a signed statement on Sunday, Senator Abdullahi said the opponents are only pretending to protect ‘Freedom of Speech’ by misinforming Nigerians on the intent of the legislation before the National Assembly.

The lawmaker, therefore, warned Nigerians to beware of “false information being spilled out by some persons and groups parading themselves as serving the interest of the nation”.

Citing a report by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) on ‘Overcoming Dangerous Speech and Endemic Religious Divides in Central Nigeria’, Senator Sabi Abdullahi said persons with strong bias capable of escalating ethnic and religious violence are infiltrating the media.

According to him, such persons and groups are opposed to the passage of a Hate Speech law by the National Assembly as same would put an end to their trade that depends on using ethnic and religious bias for the realization of self-serving interests.

“Both Christians and Muslims have said that the media blatantly expresses bias against their religion, and that journalists will deliberately not report their story or perspective.

“Outside the immediate communities affected by a specific incident, the general public’s understanding of violent events is often incomplete.

“In some cases, false news about attacks have incited the people to undertake revenge attacks in various parts of the country,” the lawmaker quoted the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) report as saying.

Senator Abdullahi, who cited another report by the Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD), said there are strong indicators making it imperative for the introduction of legislation by the National Assembly to criminalize Hate Speech which is responsible for high cases of violence and killing.

The CITAD report reads in part, “In 2017, Nigeria experienced the continuation of three major conflicts that provided a fertile ground for the propagation of hate speech.

“These were the resurgence of the Biafra Agitation in the South East, the clash between the Army and members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, popularly referred to as the Shiites Movement in the North West, and the transformation of the localized farmers-herders conflict and cattle rustling to the large scale rural banditry that had taken an ethno-religious character across much of the North West and North Central zones of the country.”

“Across the country, scores of people were killed as a result of these conflicts, further providing fuel for the wildfire of hate speech.

“More than at any time in the recent history of the country, hate speech became widely used in public discourse and communication.

“They fueled a dynamic that weakened national cohesion and made it difficult for the country to collectively address the threat to peace that affected the population in the country”, the CITAD report said.

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Adams Oshiomhole Officially Welcomes Ize-Iyamu To APC

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National chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, has welcomed former governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Mr. Osagie Ize-Iyamu into the ruling party.

Mr. Ize-Iyamu who defected to the APC officially in November was received by the former deputy governor of Edo State, Dr. Pius Odubu, who represented Comrade Oshiomhole, at his residence in the state capital.

A large crowd of supporters joined Mr. Ize-Iyamu in defecting to the APC, despite a ban on public rallies by the state government.

In the build-up to the rally, suspected thugs lit bonfires on the road leading Ize-Iyamu’s residence in Ugbor, Gra Benin City where the defection took place.

Speaking on the defection, Comrade Oshiomhole said the rally was peaceful and Mr. Ize-Iyamu’s arrival has helped the party gain more supporters and strength in the forthcoming governorship elections.

“In spite of everything, APC had a successful rally that was peaceful and it achieved its purpose.

“As I stand here now, I am taller now than I was just yesterday because we have harvested to our party, people who were part of the foundation of the APC. Those who participated in the negotiation for the merger, not only have they returned home, they have also used their connection in the other party they were in, to move people who have always been on that side to come and join us.”

Comrade Oshiomhole added that “I hear some people are panicking that pastor is coming because he wants to take a ticket. I have become sick of this suspicion; my former deputy governor was appointed as the Director of Buhari campaign organisation and the governor alleged that the appointment means I am preparing him to take over from him. He is now appointed as chairman of NDDC and they claim it is all part of the plot.”

The Inspector-General of Police had suspended the rally yesterday owing to security concerns while the Edo State Government also issued a ban on all political activities in the state till further notice.

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Buhari Returning Nigeria to Military Era, Says Okogie

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Former President of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Cardinal Anthony Olubunmi-Okogie, has said Nigeria is gradually returning to the era of military dictatorship where there is disobedience to the rule of law.

Okogie, a former Catholic Archbishop of Lagos, decried the frequent disobedience to court orders by the regime led by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).

Okogie’s comments are contained in a statement he sent to news men on Friday titled, ‘Corruption and Repression.’

He said, “The painful and sad reality we face is that we live in a country where leaders are very distant from the led. We need leaders who are neither blind to the suffering of the people nor deaf to their cries; leaders who listen to the people, leaders who have the courage to be humble, and who are therefore ready to admit that they are wrong when they are wrong.

“In a democracy, those who govern are chosen by the people to represent the people. And if they are to represent the people, they must listen to the people. Not only do true democrats listen, they also are not afraid of dissenting opinions. They do not arrogate to themselves the power to accuse, arrest, prosecute and convict. But can we candidly say we have democrats at the helm of affairs in this country at this point in time?

“How can we claim to live in a democracy when presidential spokespersons tell us the presidency is always right? It is important to remind our political leaders at the federal, state and local levels of government that they cannot enforce laws if they cannot obey the law.”

He added, “If the executive disobeys court rulings, and if it intimidates and humiliates the judiciary, then we are back to the era when a military junta made laws and interpreted them without any regard for fundamental human rights. We have returned to a sinful past when citizens could be abducted and locked up in detention without trial under the pretext of acting in the interest of national security.”

According to the retired bishop, repression of dissenting opinions was a major factor that led to the end of the First Republic.

“But Nigerians do not want military rule anymore. Having experienced two painful bouts of military dictatorship, two periods in Nigeria’s history when men in uniform, trained and paid to protect the land and its people, visited untold brutality on the civilian population, we all must resolve to be responsible for protecting democracy in this country,” he stated.

The Cardinal also recalled that it was during the military rule that Nigeria was plunged into an avoidable civil war. He said the war could have been avoided if political actors had adhered faithfully to democratic principles.

He added that their failure to do so provided opportunistic elements in the Nigerian military with an excuse for mass murder.

“Innocent lives were lost before and during that war. A month to the 50th anniversary of the end of that war, factors that led to the war are being reawakened. Our democracy is in danger because of corruption and dictatorship,” he said.

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Author of Book on Buhari Gets Over 1Million Pre-Order 2 Weeks Before Launch

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The author of the soon to be launched book on President Muhammadu Buhari, Mr. Philip Agbese has received an order for over 1 million copies of the book, more than two weeks to the date for the official launch.

The book entitled, “Integrity Vs Power Play: Understanding the Buhari Phenomenon” is set for launch at the International Conference Centre , on the 30th of December, 2019.

Agbese, who is the Chief Executive Officer of TheNigerian, a news portal established in the United Kingdom, had in a widely circulated press statement announced the date and venue for the launch of the book and few hours after the news went public, inquiries about the book dominated the social media space with many asking for copies.

Public curiosity in the book has been aroused by the recent debate occasioned by a Nigerian newspaper editorial on whether President Buhari has earned his place as a democratic leader.

The author made it known in the statement that both the background and current leadership style of the Nigerian President agree with the main point in the book that the President Buhari has earned respect as a transformational leader and an outstanding democrat.

The pungency of the view canvassed as well as the authority with which the book is written serves to whet the appetite of the reading public that various institutions and individuals have placed orders for the book ahead of the set date for launch.

A statement from the book launch committee called on the general public who are eager to demonstrate their love and support for President Muhammad Buhari to be patient as copies would be made available on the day of the launch and in leading book stores across the country.

The committee said there’s no doubt that the twisted narrative about the President which some are trying to impose on the populace would be challenged with the launch of the book stating that Nigerians and the international community would soon get to know the truth about the true qualities of the Nigerian President.

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