Why Nigeria needs anti-hate speech bill – APC chieftain, Mumuni

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A chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in Lagos State, Ambassador Abayomi Nurain Mumuni on Tuesday declared that Nigeria needs anti-hate speech bill in order to curtail provocative utterances and fake news.

DAILY POST recalls that anti-hate speech bill, which seeks to regulate and punish people who make unguarded statements was recently re-introduced by Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi. 

Eminent Nigerians including former Governor of Ogun State, Olusegun Osoba, Senators, activists and Guild of Editors have expressed their displeasures over the proposed law. 

But, Mumuni while reacting, insisted that the bill was critical in order to curtail provocative utterances and the spread of fake news in the Nigeria cyberspace.

Mumuni in a statement made available to DAILY POST through his Media Aide, Rasheed Abubakar, argued that the bill was necessary given how most Nigerian social media users throw caution to the winds, creating palpable tension and making decorum impossible in the society.

The former gubernatorial candidate on the platform of the defunct Congress for Progressives Change (CPC) in Lagos state said, “The hate speech bill would have been unnecessary had it been Nigerians take caution in using the social media. In the absence of decorum, peace won’t reign. We should not throw the bill out because it has come to regulate the way we use the social media.

“What are the contents of the bill? What is controversial about? It says, in part, that a person must not do any act in or outside Nigeria in order to transmit in Nigeria a statement knowing or having reason to believe that it is a false statement of fact. Is their anything wrong with that? I won’t be surprised if many of those who kick against it didn’t have idea of what the bill is about.

Mumuni said rather than condemning the bill and its sponsor, Nigerians should have called for its regulation.

“What should have been advocated for is the regulation of the bill in the sense that it would only cater for glaring cases of hate speech so as not to serve as a mechanism for witch-hunting perceived oppositions or eliminating critical engagements on public policy”.

He revealed that developed countries like France, Singapore, Malaysia and Italy and a host of others have legislations used to regulate public communication so as to ensure peaceful coexistence among the people in the society.

He noted that the use of social Media in Nigeria has actually became an outlets for the cowards, stressing that, “freedom of speech does not give one the license to cause crises, wreak havoc and make unfounded claims.

“The government should also try as much as possible to make the punitive measures be in tandem with the offence in the sense that the ant would not be killed with a machine gun. The punishment attached for the offence should not be different from the ones obtainable in other countries in order to rule out the possibility of any political mission. That’s I support fines or jail terms for offenders, irrespective of their status in the society.

“The way forward is that people should understand that freedom of speech does not translate to causing crises and promoting falsehood. Doing such is unhealthy to our nascent democracy. As such, the guilty ones should not go unpunished to serve as deterrent to others”.

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