Gov. Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State on Tuesday denied that his government is muzzling the media and impinging on the rights of people to free speech.
The governor made the denial in Kaduna in a message to the opening of a workshop on conflict prevention and peace building for civil society organisations.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the three-day workshop was organised by the Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution and the United Nation Development Programme.
Mr. El-Rufai who was represented by his media aide, Samuel Aruwan, however said the administration would not accept any report that incites violence and ignites crisis in the state.
“Contrary to the false assertions from some quarters, the government of Kaduna state does not seek to muzzle the free press or journalists in the performance of their duty.
“As a government, it is our constitutional mandate to protect against actions that disrupt the society such as irresponsible journalism that spread falsehood, publishes inciting stories and turn our people against one another.
“I am convinced that the active participation of Civil Society Organizations in conflict prevention, resolution and peace building will help the government in fostering harmonious living and peaceful co-existence in our country.
“We must all rise against voices that promote division and those who promote hate speeches which incites people to violence against those they differ from.
“People must learn to tolerate one another and respect others even when they differ on political ideology, religion or tribe,’’ he said.
Mr. El-Rufai disclosed that the state government would set up a peace commission to manage conflicts in the state.
He said it was one of the steps taken by government to address the recurring conflicts, adding that the peace commission would also handle prevention and non-violent interventions as well as render support to security agencies.
The governor said the administration had partnered religious and traditional leaders in ongoing peace building efforts across communities.
He stressed that “peace is everybody’s business’’, as such there was need to leverage on the roles of the CSOs to collectively build peace in Nigeria.
He appealed for reason and moderation from all persons in the country to reinforce peace, tolerance and cooperation for the unity and progress of the country.
The governor urged the CSOs to cooperate with government to denounce hate speeches, radicalization and violent extremism as well as ensure effective enforcement of laws to punish offenders.
Earlier, the Director General of the institute, Oshita Oshita, urged Nigerians to embrace peace and help to build a strong and united country.
He said that the workshop was to build the capacity of CSOs for continuous dialogue, collaboration and peace building across the country.
In her goodwill message, Hannatu Ibrahim, a peace ambassador, said civil societies must compliment government in their peace building efforts.
According to her, individuals and communities must also learn to dialogue in addressing contentious issues among them.