Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State has promised to deal decisively with those who would want to test the will of the government by inciting people with the aim of setting off ethno-religious crisis in the state.
A statement issued by the State Security Council following its security meeting, said government was set to arrest and prosecute all those who indulge in inciting people with the aim of trigering off ethno-religious crisis in the state.
According to the Council, the warning is sequel to intelligence reports vis-a-vis the utterances of individuals that could cause chaos and bloodshed in the state.
The Street Journal recalls that Kaduna State was recently in the eye of the storm following the killing of dozens of members of an Islamic group, the Shiite sect in the ancient city of Zaria during a clash with the army.
The release reads in part: “The attention of the Kaduna State Security Council has been drawn to illegal activities going on in some institutions of higher learning, places of worship and in social gatherings aimed at inciting people against each other along religious and ethnic lines.
“The Council said it has noted the regrettable circulation of posters and leaflets containing hate speech. While condemning this sort of behaviour, the Council warned those involved to desist or face the full weight of the law.
“The Constitution of this country grants every citizen the right to freely express and hold opinion. The right to free speech is one of the noblest expressions of liberty and it is intended to uplift mankind; therefore, it cannot be used as a cover to set people against each other or to be exercised so recklessly that it becomes a barrier to the enjoyment of similar rights by others or actually imperils the rights of other citizens to respect for their dignity, security and lives.
“All those preaching hate are hereby cautioned that the defence of the constitution will compel their prosecution for violating its provisions. Anyone found culpable will be prosecuted by security agencies in accordance with relevant laws. The Council especially warns against the circulation of false reports, and the propagation of items that alarm people and create tensions without any basis. People are advised to verify the accuracy and authenticity of information they disseminate.
“The Council wishes to add that security agencies will arrest and subsequently prosecute groups and individuals inciting tensions via circulation of hate speech or any act contributory to breakdown of law and order in the State.
“The Council commended citizens for their vigilance in reporting instances of hate speech to the appropriate authorities. People should refrain from taking the law into their hands, no matter the depth of offense they may feel.”