The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, has asked attorneys-general and commissioners of justice from the 36 states of the country to ensure the prosecution of those engaged in hate speech.
Mr. Malami gave the charge while declaring open a two-day summit on Sexual and Gender-Based Violence organized for attorneys-general of the 36 states by UNFPA and UNHCR in collaboration with Adamawa State Government.
He said as chief law officers of their respective states, they were empowered by the constitution under section 174 and 211 to institute and undertake criminal proceedings against any person before any court in respect of any offence.
“Distinguished colleagues, permit me to draw our attention to current happenings wherein some people have taken it upon themselves to overheat the polity through deliberate hate speeches with its attendant divisive implication for unity, peace and security of the country,” Mr. Malami said.
“As chief law officers of the nation and custodians of her legal conscience, we have a responsibility to ensure that unity, peace and security of the nation is not compromised by those seeking to promote their selfish individual interests over and above national ones.”
The minister noted that where the action or interest of an individual constituted an imminent threat to national interest, the individual interest must be subjected to the national interest.
He said, “The fulcrum of the rule of law is supremacy of the law over and above all institutions and persons irrespective of his political and social standing in the society. No one is above the law.
“Therefore, for anyone who chooses to deliberately stoke the fire of discord and threaten the unity and security of the country, as chief law officers, it is our responsibility to ensure that the full weight of the law is brought to bear on such persons.
“Your capacity to do so with respect to the offences created by the Acts of National Assembly has been strengthened by the fiat I recently gave to all state attorneys-general to prosecute all federal offences on behalf of the attorney-general of the federation. I urge you to put the fiat to work and ensure that hate speeches are nipped in the bud.”
Mr. Malami thanked the Adamawa Government, UNHCR and UNFPA for supporting the meeting on gender-based violence saying that the meeting would consider bills on the issue that would serve as a model for various states to adopt.
In his remarks, Governor Muhammadu Bindow of Adamawa State said that the state government would support any meaningful judicial and justice reform for the interest of the people.
Mr. Bindow said that one of the cardinal aspects of his administration was to ensure peace, unity and stability among the diverse communities irrespective of their religious, tribal or sectional differences.
Attorneys-General attending the two-day seminar are also to review some aspects of the National Prosecution Policy, Code of Conduct and Guidelines for Prosecutors.