Columns

Hate speech as terrorism

Putting in the mouth what is cannot even bite let alone chew: that is what Nigeria is doing by calling speech terror. Yes of course you can use speech to frighten a person, but you cannot terrorize him by it. Not in the sense those who own the language use the word. What is intended in calling speech terrorism is just for any Igbo to be able to be condemnable to death in the eyes of the Nigerian law for saying anything (whatever) that offends them (their northern overlords).
By terrorism, those who invented and use the word imply that killing or an intention to do so must have taken place.
I don’t know if the Acting president, Osinbajo, a university professor who declared hate speech as terrorism in Nigeria thinks it will come into effect by such mere declaration. Hate speech will be subject to infinite legal definition which nobody can ever come out of, just because we are after the Igbo people for wanting to have a separate Biafran state.
Yet not appointing them to positions, killing them, denying them human rights, discriminating against them in the citing of amenities and recently segregating them in northern Nigeria are various forms of terrorism. Those who perpetrate these against them are exonerated from any offense. If terrorism is a stigma in the world it is indelibly Islamic. It is difficult if not impossible to deny or transfer. In our case, what is happening is just as they say an attempt to call the Igbo a hate speaker to call him a terrorist in order to hang him. Perhaps Biafra agitators will now will now be charged with terrorism to made their crime more heinous and universally condemnable. But it won’t work. Offensive speech is like the universal sin of Adam and Eve which has smitten the whole of mankind without exception. Where will they have all the prison space to accommodate all those who will be arrested for hate speeches? What of the ones going on between couples in homes. Will Osinbajo claim all the offenses on behalf of the spouses offended? What of the ones happening in schools and colleges, market and work places?
If the hate speech law is successfully promulgated, we all wait to see how the trial will be. The hate speech against another person will certainly be different with the one against the Nigerian state of Federal government will hold against us. The government will not encourage me to pursue all hate speeches against me. I t means we shall leave all else and face litigation. And if we get conviction or judgment, we will expect maximum punishment as the federal government would. It will be between the FGN and the rest of and between us and one another locally. Thereby the main business in society would be quarrels and disputes over who told the other what in the way of hate words. This is the type of life a government in it wisdom is about to institute!
Another wild goose chase is that Defense Chiefs have to start monitoring the social media so as to after hate speakers. Of all the things there are to do? And social media operators are mostly abroad. If all children locally who use social media and paste so called hate speeches have to be rounded up and shut up or their phones seized, what a rat race there will be in the land between them and Service chiefs who were supposed to be very busy with delicate and sensitive security matters. It shows they had nothing doing before.
To accuse someone of hate, you have to suspect him first and investigate him before bringing him into custody. Can you imagine the amount of logistics it requires to cover the country and beyond? Hate is a matter of the mind which cannot be easily read or pin-pointed. How much individual hate can affect a whole Nigeria will be difficult to know as to warrant the person being treated like a murderer which is what a terrorist is.
Nobody has considered the amount of job being imposed on judges and magistrates who will do the trials, And on the law enforcement agents who will go for arrests and do investigations. The exploitation, bribe-giving and taking that this will mean at all levels will be incredible. Corruption will be walking on all fours and knocking those who pose obstacles to it away.
I don’t know what any right thinking person had in mind to contemplate calling speech terrorism and trying to make it law. It is the height of depravity. That brain is decaying as well as the society that harbors it.

About the author

Christian Voice