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Hate Speech Bill: OneVoice Rejects Death Penalty, Urges Restraints

… Says there exists sufficient laws to take care of hate speech in the country

 

IT NEWS NIGERIA:

OneVOICE Coalition, an organization of select non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Nigeria has announced that it rejects death penalty in totality as contained in the  Hate Speech Bill before National Assembly as there exists sufficient extant laws that take care of bad utterances in the country.

 

In a Media Conference Themed: “Freedom of Expression and the Combat of Hate Speech in Nigeria” yesterday in Lagos, The Coalition agree that  making laws to prohibit hate speeches is like increasing funding for police and army to fight crime and quell uprising without addressing the causes of increase in crimes and tension.

President, Committee for Defense of Human Rights (CDHR), Comrade (Barr) Malachy Ugwummadu said in a passionate speech that “often at odds with each other issues, the executive arm and the National Assembly have, however, recently found a common ground in pursuing a draconian legislation on “hate speech”. In this, they clearly intend to surpass the colonial overlords, successive military regimes and the world’s most brutral dictatorships in legal savagery. Nigerians should for once exercise their rights to resist blatant oppression by a degenerate political class”

 

He explained that Hate Speech Bill did not appear on the website of the Nigerian Senate. The idea of hiding the bill and an attempt to pass it secretly without public participation speaks volume of government intensions.”

Ugwummadu noted that there are a number of other legislations that can take care of issues of hate speech. We have defamation laws, we have cybercrime prohibition Act. Laws that censor Broadcasts have prohibition for hate speech.

speaking on the topic: Hate Speech And The Right To Freedom Of Expression In Democratic Governance: The Legal Pespectives, Ugwummadu said

 

“Government should strengthen the institutions of democracy. We reject hate speech bill and reject death penalty. Keeping hate speech bill secrete from the public render it illegal.”

 

“By far more than the foregoing observations and recommendations for stemming the ever disturbing incidences of hate speech, in any society, is the overriding imperatives of dealing with the socio-economic and cultural conditions that dehumanize people of any nation to believe that resort to ethnic and clannish considerations other than merit, content and competences guarrantee them better opportunities to engage in a heterogeneous society like ours”, he added.

 

Director, International Press Centre (IPC), Lanre Arogundade said On the surface, it might be argued that the hate speech bill before the Senate seeks to check the excesses of those who may want to promote intra and inter ethnic ill feelings as well as help to check the menace of killings in the country.

 

He argue that Nigeria already has a plethora of laws – against defamation, against libel,  – that can be invoked against purveyors of hate speech, adding that a legislation that will scare citizens away from calling a spade a spade when it comes to bad governance, anti-people’s policies is not in the best interest of the country.

As regards way forward, Arogundade said  “what the country needs today is engagement by multiple stakeholders to examine effective measures to address hate speech”.

 

In  a Keynote Address on the ‘Hate Speech Bill as a National Embarrassment’ earlier, Executive Director, IAP and Chair, OneVoice Media Committee, Pastor Adedeji Adeleye said there is a debate that Hate Speech Bill when passed into law could be misused by politicians and political office holders in government to hunt down opposition, and critical civil society’s non-state actors.

According to him, “in other words, the debate is now over freedom of speech or expression, hate speech and hate speech law. Critics have argued that the term “hate speech” will eventually be used to silence critics. The second is that there exists sufficient Nigerian extant laws that could take care of hate speech in the country with little amendment here and there. Therefore, a hate speech law is unnecessary.”

 

OneVOICE Coalition, an organization of select non-governmental organizations in Nigeria is implementing its mandate as a voice and accountability initiative in organizing this Media Forum. It said it has become critically important to contextualize Hate Speech and Democratic Governance in Nigeria. If the recent bill by the Nigerian Senate is passed into law, all hate speech offenders shall die by hanging upon conviction. Mover of the bill, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, Senate Media & Public Affairs Committee Chairman told lawmakers at a plenary on Wednesday, February 28, 2018, that the legislation was as a result of the growing concerns over the spate of violence and hate speeches in the country. The bill also seeks to establish an ‘Independent National Commission for Hate Speeches’, saddled with the responsibility of enforcing hate speech laws across the country, eliminating the menace and advising the federal government. Underpinning this however is the fact that the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) said it has received 783 petitions on hate speech, which should be worrisome to every right thinking Nigerian. Because as we move towards 2019 general elections the situation is more likely to exacerbate instead of ameliorate.

Participants at the forum included prominent non-governmental and civil society organizations, academics and members of the media.

 

 

 

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