The presidency through Femi Adesina has issued serious warnings to religious leaders inciting hate speech.
Femi Adesina, spokesperson to President Muhammadu Buhari while calling on clergymen to desist from inciting the public with hate speech cited the Rwanda incident saying the impact of the 1994 genocide which killed several thousands of people was still visible in the East African nation. He added that hatred could end up destroying the country.
According to him: “We have always warned about hate speech that is rife in our own country, Nigeria. You hear it from so-called bishops, imams, talk show hosts, phone-in programs on radio and television, anywhere, and everywhere.
“I had written before that if Nigeria dies, it is hatred that killed her. And our pastors would not be innocent. Nor the imams, and everyone that trades in hateful language against government and other ethnic groups.
”Those things pile up continuously, till it boils over, and cascades on an entire country. The heinous crimes we see in the land today cannot be entirely divorced from hateful and incendiary speeches.
“Let us carry those bishops and pastors who spew hatred from the pulpit, and bring them to the genocide museum. And the imams too.
“Maybe they will ‘lend themselves some brain.’ And the TV and radio hosts, who make snide, hateful remarks, and allow their guests to do the same. That was the same road Rwanda trod, and genocide was unleashed on the land.
“If Nigeria dies, whether now or in the future, hatred killed her. How can a people go about, bearing giant-sized grudges against their country, its leadership, against one another, and expect that country to live in peace and prosperity? It won’t happen. “When we don’t know who to hate, we hate ourselves”
“The EndSARS campaign began as an agitation against police brutality, in which there was unanimity of purpose. And suddenly, it became a vehicle of hate. Against leadership, against national cohesion, an opportunity to settle political scores, and equally prepare for power grab in 2023. Hatred came into the mix.
“The agitation by youths against injustice and oppression suddenly took on a variegated nature. Separatists came under the umbrella, and began to advance their cause, working for the dismemberment of the country. Those beaten black and blue in 2015 and 2019 elections also crept in, and asked for pound of flesh, while also plotting for a return to power in 2023.
“The venom, which peaceful protests eventually became, can only be summed up by one word. Hatred. How can you begin to club people to death, in different parts of the country? How can you set fire to national assets and institutions, storm prisons and release prisoners into society, all in the name of peaceful protests? No, peace had fled through the window, and hatred was fully in control.”