Abuja — The Minister of Interior, Lt.-Gen. Abdulrahman Dambazau (rtd.), has said that the federal government is taking proactive measures to end the hateful and divisive speeches currently threatening the peace and stability of the country.
In this regard, he disclosed that his ministry has submitted a draft bill to the Ministry of Justice, which will review it and submit to the National Assembly as an executive bill for passage into law.
The law, when passed, will criminalise hate speech and subject culprits to persecution and punishment, he added.
Regarding the ugly gun violence on Sunday, leading to the deaths of 13 persons at St. Phillip's Catholic Church in Ozubulu town in Anambra State, the minister said the government was yet to receive the detailed report of what happened.
Speaking to journalists late Wednesday evening shortly after a meeting with the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Dambazau said that as far as the government was concerned every Nigerian is entitled to practise his or her religion, adding that no one can also choose the tribe into which he or she shall be born.
"What we have done now is to submit a draft bill to the Ministry of Justice on hate speech which will go as an executive bill after passing through the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation to the National Assembly. The draft contains the law and punishment for hate speeches.
"This should not be allowed in this country. Everybody is entitled to belong to his or her religion and no one chooses the tribe into which he or she wants to be born.
"That is how God wants the person to be and there is absolutely no reason for hate speech. If the National Assembly passes the bill, certainly anybody who engages in hate speech will be prosecuted in accordance with the law of the country," he said.
On the tragedy that befell the sprawling town of Ozubulu in Anambra State on Sunday, Dambazau said though he had spoken with the state governor, Willie Obiano, on the incident and obtained a preliminary report of what happened, the federal government still needed to get a detailed report.
"I have spoken with the governor of the state and he told me that it was an issue that bordered on the relationship between two persons from the same village, resident somewhere in South Africa.
"As a result, one of them arranged the violent attack. I have not received the detailed report of that incident. But whether there is speculation that those two persons are involved in drug trafficking or not, I am still awaiting the detailed report," he said.
On the scandal that has trailed his ministry's recruitment exercise since 2015, the minister said efforts had been made to correct the anomalies by starting the process afresh.
"We have started the process all over again and of the 2,000 reported, we recruited 888 that finally scaled through. So the balance of 1,112 is the vacant positions we advertised for recruitment," he said.