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‘Is It Now Cool To Kill?’ — Soyinka Writes National Assembly Over ‘Hate Speech’ Bill

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Wole Soyinka

Wole Soyinka, Nobel laureate, says the national assembly is attempting to silence the voice of criticism with the introduction of the bill on hate speech.

A week after the senate introduced a bill to regulate social media, the senate reintroduced another bill seeking to establish a commission for the prohibition hate speech in the country.

The bill prescribed death by hanging for any person found guilty of any form of hate speech that results in the death of another person.

But in a piece on Friday, the scholar wondered why killing should be seen as an alternative to the scourge of hate speech.

“Dear legislators, consider more deeply the path on which you have chosen to embark. I invite you to reflect quite objectively on the company into which you are about to throw yourselves, and the consequences for the very nation you represent – including its social psyche,” Soyinka said.

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“​Your motivations are also spectacularly dubious. Silencing the voices of criticism is a perennial preoccupation of power, but we know that a far more penetrative form of death, spelling the end of social vitality and relevance is incurred when human voices are silenced.”

He asked the lawmakers to imagine how many “deserved” executions would be taking place in the country if Boko Haram had succeeded in implementing its laws across the country.

The letter below:

I hope you will excuse me for distracting you from your onerous duties, but I am a current sufferer – and I am not alone – from a persistent nightmare. That affliction has been induced by your most recent approach to addressing an acknowledged problem that affects, not only Nigerians, but the entire global community. The nightmare consists of the fear of waking up one morning to discover that one’s name has been cited among those helpless victims on behalf of whom a repellent legislation is about to be enacted.

​The likelihood in my case is especially acute. Yes, indeed, it is no Fake News that I have denounced the purveyors of public lies and hate material as the very scum of the earth. I have called them names that come close to enrolling me among the very reprobates we all so fervently denounce. From Abuja, through Paris, London, Sochi, Dar es Salaam, Chandrigah, etc. etc., I have utilized every availableplatform to highlight their perverse mentality and call for concerted action against their hyper-activism against humanity in general. I have singled out the Nigerian species of this criminal pursuit as an especially virulent breed, as a subhuman aberration without conscience, incapable of remorse, sustained by abnormal reserves of sadism. I have closed down dozens of fake sites instituted over my name, and set in motion mechanisms for the pursuit of those who steal my identity, even where the content is quite harmless, even positive. Only recently, in Paris, I proposed that judicial mitigation under the recognition of crime passionnel should be considered forvictims of Fake News who ‘lose control’ on physically encountering their violators. As you may have discerned so far, I again, and unapologetically, exploit this very development to reiterate my detestation and contempt for such pestilences that plague our humanity.

​However, dear legislators, consider more deeply the path on which you have chosen to embark. I invite you to reflect quite objectively on the company into which you are about to throw yourselves, and the consequences for the very nation you represent – including its social psyche. You are about to corrupt youthful impression, to join the brigade of closet psychopaths for whom the only solution to any social malaise from the trite to the profoundly affective is – Kill! Is this what humanity and society are all about?

​You are psyching up your ranks to pronounce yourselves affiliates of inhuman aberrations such as Boko Haram, Isis (Da’esh), al Shabbab , nomadic cow herders etc. etc. for whom killing is the only response for real or imagined wrongs, perceptions of entitlement and/or deprivation, sense of righteousness and generally – concept of a thoroughly sanitized community of mortals. You are sending out applications to join the ranks of those inadequate males who believe that the only cure for adultery is to bury a woman up to her neck in earth and reduce her head to a pulp under a rain of stones. You affirm yourselves – not for the first time, alas! –allies of those who believe that death is the appropriate cure for that physiological conditioning which, through no fault of theirs, attract them to others of the same sex. You pronounce yourselves clones of demented rulers like Yahayah Jahmeh of Gambia who preached that we all cut off the heads of homosexuals and poison alleged witches -– and so on and on down a dismal list of silent, instinctive killers who have somehow managed to manipulate themselves into the corridors of ‘legitimatized’ — or illicit recesses of – Power and Force.

By the way, are you aware that a school of thought passionately believes that thieves such as Yahayah Jahmeh, formerly of Gambia, Omar Bashir of the Sudan etc in company of numerous members of African leadership elite, including this very Nigerian society, deserve no less than the death penalty for pilfering public resources, and on a scale that continues to stagger even the most inured in this nation? Do you really, as presumably analytical minds, believe that a facile and final recourse to the gallows or a fusillade of bullets at the stake, is the sole remedy to the phenomenon of the diffuse classifications possible under the abuse of communication and the sowing of hate among people? How precise is the definition of ‘hate’ when it becomes a yardstick for the extinction of even one human life? Haunting,hopefully, our collective conscience as a nation, even till today, is recollection of a clique of social army reformers who instituted, and carried out the execution citizens under a retroactive law. Yet others wiped out entire communities as collective punishment for the loss of members of their elite class, the military. And surely it is too soon to dismiss memory of the mass decimation of a religious group, the Shi’ites, for obstructing the passage of a motorcade of that same elite class. These are classic instances of murder, albeit under the immunity of power legitimation.

​Your motivations are also spectacularly dubious. Silencing the voices of criticism is a perennial preoccupation of power, but we know that a far more penetrative form of death, spelling the end of social vitality and relevance is incurred when human voices are silenced. Try and imagine how many “deserved” executions would be taking place in this nation right now – beginning with nearly all of you in the exalted homes of legislation – if Boko Haram had succeeded in subjugating this nation under its creed. Well, do not even bother with imagination, which is not as common a faculty as we tend to assume – simply check with neighbouring Mali how many, convicted of crimes against faith, Mr. Answar Dine eliminated during his brief sway in northern Mali. Or remain within this nation itself — check the statistics of death inflicted from indiscriminate bombings of the thriving concourses of humanity – schools, markets, motor parks, media houses, churches, mosques, shrines by believers in the doctrine of death as divine solution to the very crime of existence outside their narrow and perverted set of beliefs. Consider the fate of Uganda if Joseph Kony had indeed succeeded in his mission of converting Ugandans to his doctrine of – Salvation or Death!

​These are not imaginary scenarios. That quick but facile option – killing – has become the current emblem of this very nation, effectively replacing the green-white-green!Something has collapsed. The carefully calibrated structures of fellow feeling, supposedly inculcated from infancy, lie in ruins. Life is now held cheap, casual, and trite. Students kill for the thrill of it, and for assertion of cultic supremacy. Kidnappers collect ransom yet kill. They kill even intermediary couriers. Fetishists kill in pursuit of illusions of instant wealth. Others, highly placed, kill for political office, and yet others to cover up criminalities by the deployment of killers. You cannot claim ignorance that there have been identified, over the past few decades, consortiums of killers who actually advertise their trade in select circles and canvass for clients. Your businessmen – and women – have used them. So have politicians.

And now, you wish to add, to this culture of rampaging morbidity, the state empowered deaths of those dregs of society who titillate themselves with corrosive narratives from diseased minds, and boost their meaningless lives with the degradation of others? Are they even worth the cost of the hangman’s noose? No. True, governance has a responsibility to protect its citizens, but social malefactors must be fought and neutralized through far more painstaking methods. Reformed if possible, exposed and publicly humiliated,punished and compelled to make restitution where their actions have caused pain, anguish and destruction. That option, we know, is the more arduous path, but then, where did you obtain the notion that you were elected to occupy cushy, stress-free armchairs?

​When a section of this national community wanted to execute a lady called Safiyat for alleged adultery some years ago – and through the singularly revolting means of stoning to death — the nation rose above religious partisanship inrepudiation of this barbaric trivialization of human life. We continue to rail against the solution of death as penalty against those whose sexual orientation is different from ours, and thereby offends the sensibilities of others. I await persuasion, offered through objective, not emotive arguments, that this new extension of the homicidal imperative is fundamentally different from those other globally repudiated candidates for the killing route to social sanitation.

​For now, may I passionately plead with you to consider that the coarsening and debasement of youth sensibility – already too far gone – through the trivialization of life – is a spectre that may return to haunt you if coming generations are taught that it is “cool to kill”. Remember that example, especially by leadership, is a hundred times more explicit and enduring than the mere propagation of any counter-doctrine. Do not embrace the awful responsibility of impressing homicide as a way of life on the ethical template of coming generations. The chickens have a way of coming home to roost. I may be wrong of course, but their droppings already foul the common air we all breathe. Just take a deep breath, look around you, and re-consider.

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Inside Nigeria

Nigeria Has Global Highest HIV-Infected Babies — Health Minister

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The Minister of State for Health, Senator Adeleke Mamora, has said that Nigeria has the highest number of babies infected with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus, adding that the Federal Government would therefore sustain HIV prevention and treatment activities nationwide.

The minister noted that the government would commit “sufficient resources to both HIV prevention and treatment in order to stay on track to end the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome by 2030.

Mamora stated these in Abuja on Thursday at the launching of the Faith-based Action for Scaling up of Testing and Treatment for Epidemic Response project in Nigeria.

The project is sponsored by the Catholic Relief Services and the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.

The minister said, “Over the years, the government has put in place several response mechanisms towards reducing the burden of HIV and AIDS in the country, as evidenced by the reduction in the HIV prevalence from the 3.1 per cent to 1.4 in the last survey.

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“It has been discovered that majority of children infected with the HIV are living in sub-Saharan Africa with Nigeria having more HIV infected babies than anywhere else in the world. HIV prevention and treatment activities must therefore be sustained and the momentum increased if the country and the world at large are to stay on track to end AIDS by 2030.

“This launch of the Catholic Relief Services’ FASTER project is at the right time to bridge the identified gaps, especially in pediatric HIV diagnosis and treatment. The six priority actions of the project are as follows; streamline regulatory approval, integrate service delivery, expand diagnostic platforms, evaluate and expand on novel HIV testing approaches, implement validated HIV risk screening checklist and optimise paediatric Anti-Retroviral Therapy.”

The project director in Nigeria, Dr Emeka Anoje, said the programme being implemented in the seven states of Rivers, Benue, Delta, Enugu, Imo, Nasarawa and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

“The project is designed to accelerate progress in pediatric HIV diagnosis and treatment in countries that have high unmet need for child and adolescent antiretroviral therapy. These countries include Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia,” Anoje added.

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Inside Nigeria

FG Suspends Turkish Airlines

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Turkish airlines

The Nigerian government has suspended the operations of Turkish Airlines in the country due to the airline’s perceived poor treatment of passengers.

Nigeria’s Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) director-general Abdullahi Sidi in a letter said the suspension might continue “if no remedial action is carried out by the airline.”

Sidi expressed displeasure on frequent cases of the airline leaving passengers en route into Nigeria behind despite having checked-in their luggage.

“This issue had made passengers carry out several mob actions at our airport and it was a great threat to our airport facilities,” Sidi said.

Sidi insisted that the suspension will continue until the airline is willing to operate with the size of aircraft that can transport all passengers with their baggage.

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The NCAA boss disclosed that the complaints against Turkish Airlines have been ongoing for two weeks.

He said it was so bad that most recent Turkish Airlines’ flights arrived in Nigeria without more than 85 per cent of passengers’ baggage on board.

Sidi said a series of meetings had been held by the authority and the airline but did not yield results.

“The NCAA is therefore left with no option than to direct Turkish Airlines to suspend its operations into Nigeria until such a time when the airline is ready to operate with the right size of aircraft that can transport all passengers with their baggage at the same time.”

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Inside Nigeria

Court Orders Arrest Of Ex-Petroleum Minister, Diezani Alison-Maduke

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diezani alison-madueke

A high court in Adamawa has ordered the arrest of Diezani Alison-Madueke, former minister of petroleum resources, for allegedly giving a bribe of N362 million to INEC officials to influence the outcome of the 2015 presidential election.

Nathan Musa, the judge, gave this order on Thursday while delivering judgement against Ibrahim Umar and Sahabo Hamman, two staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) who received the bribe from Alison-Madueke.

The judge directed Mohammed Adamu, inspector-general of police (IGP), to liaise with the International Police Organisation (INTERPOL) to ensure that the former petroleum minister is arrested.

In a statement, Wilson Uwujaren, spokesperson of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), said the former minister and three others were charged “for allegedly deploying over N362million derived from a $115m slush fund to influence the outcome of the 2015 presidential elections in favour of the candidate of the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)”.

Count two of the charge read: “That you, Ibrahim Mohammed Umar, Sahabo Iya Hamman and Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke (now at large) sometime between March and May 2015 in Yola, Adamawa state, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, while being a public officer working with Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and retired public servant and former minister of petroleum resources (now at large) and in capacities, did corruptly procure monetary benefit of three hundred and sixty-two million naira, (N362,000,000.00) in favour of public officers and staff working with Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of Adamawa State, contrary to and punishable under Section 9 (1) (a) & (b) of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000.”

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Alison-Madueke, who fled Nigeria shortly after she left office in 2015, has been named in several corruption cases pending in different courts in the country.

Some of these cases have been stalled owing to her absence.

The EFCC said it is working at extraditing the former minister from the United Kingdom.

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