Acting President Yemi Osinbajo has finally spoken on the three-month ultimatum issued Ndigbo residing in the Northern region by a coalition of Northern youths.
Osinbajo, on Tuesday, June 13, read the Riot Act to all those beating the drums of war across the country, saying the full force of the law would be applied where necessary.
Osinbajo gave the warning while addressing leaders of thought from the northern part of the country at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The meeting, which was held behind closed doors, was called in the wake of the recent notice to quit some youths from the northern part of the country handed down to people from the South-East to leave their region.
Osinbajo, in his opening remarks before journalists were asked to leave the venue, said the Federal Government was determined to ensure unity in the country.
He said hate speeches and other divisive behaviours would be met with the full force of the law.
He said government would take very seriously any attempts to cause violence or disrupt the peace of the country.
The acting President said, “As a government, we are determined to ensure the unity of the country along the lines of our constitution and I want to say that hate and divisive speech or divisive behaviour where it is illegal will be met with the full force of the law.
“I want to ensure that there is no doubt at all that it is the resolve of the government that no one will be allowed to get away with making speeches that can cause sedition or that can cause violence.
“This is especially so because when we make this kind of pronouncement and do things that can cause violence or destruction of lives and property, we are no longer in control. Those who make those speeches are no longer in control.
“So I want to emphasise that government will take very seriously any attempts to cause violence or disrupt the peace of this country. And that is very important because you cannot control violence once it begins.”
Osinbajo likened violence or hate speech to a stone thrown in the marketplace which would hit targets that would be deadly.
He said Nigerians needed to be fully conscious so that they would not create a crisis that was not intended.
Osinbajo admitted that as part of living together, misunderstandings and frustrations would always arise and people would always want to get the best part of the deal.
Those at the meeting included the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara; Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Gabriel Olonisakin; Chairman of Arewa Consultative Forum and former Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Coomassie; spokesman for the Northern Elders Forum, Prof. Ango Abdullahi; and a former governor of Sokoto State, Aliyu Wamakko.
Others are a former deputy governor of Plateau State, Pauline Tallen; the Publisher of Leadership newspapers, Sam Ndah-Isaiah; Paul Unongo, Chairman, Liberty Radio and Television, Tijani Ramalan; and the Editor-in-Chief, Daily Trust, Dan Ali, among others.
Osinbajo is expected to meet with leaders from the South-East separately before he would eventually meet with both groups together.