Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has slammed ethnic hate comments made on social media during his absence which he described as an attack on the country’s unity.
He expressed his displeasure on Monday morning in his first speech to the nation after his return from a 103-day medical leave in London on Saturday.
“Nigerians are robust and lively in discussing their affairs, but I was distressed to notice that some of the comments, especially on social media, have crossed our national red lines by daring to question our collective existence as a nation. This is a step too far,” he said.
This is in reaction to social media agitations and ethnic tensions among some individuals belonging to the Igbo and Hausa ethnic groups who are stoking inter-ethnic clashes.
I was distressed to notice that some of the comments, especially on social media, have crossed our national red lines by daring to question our collective existence as a nation. This is a step too far.
“Nigeria’s unity is settled and not negotiable. We shall not allow irresponsible elements to start trouble, and when things get bad they run away and saddle others with the responsibility of bringing back order, if necessary with their blood,” Buhari warned.
“Every Nigerian has the right to live and pursue his business anywhere in Nigeria without let or hindrance. I believe the very vast majority of Nigerians share this view,” he added.
President Buhari directed those with grievances to channel them to the appropriate authorities for a national discourse.
He called on the security agencies to extend the fight against terrorism to criminals including kidnappers and “political mischief makers”.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said last week that the government is taking intimidation of people by words and speech very seriously.
“Hate speech is a specie of terrorism … We’ve drawn a line against hate speech, it will not be tolerated, it will be taken as an act of terrorism and all of the consequences will follow it,” he said while cautioning Nigerians to be guarded in their speech.