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Hate speech bill ‘will lead to impunity’

Hate speech bill ‘will lead to impunity’
November 26
21:41 2019

Stakeholders in the media, academia and civil society groups have described the proposed bill on the prohibition of hate speech as a step towards impunity.

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At a meeting in Lagos on Tuesday, different speakers said the motive behind the bill is to gag the media and repress the voices of the citizens.

The event, which was organised by the Africa Foundation for Young Media Professionals and African Centre for Media and Intercultural Dialogue (ACMID), featured in its panel discussion Suraj Olunifesi, a lecturer at the University of Lagos (UNILAG); Tunde Abatan, editor of NewDawn online newspaper, and Martins Oloja, editorial board member, The Guardian.

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

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

After an outrage across the country, Abdullahi Sabi, sponsor of the bill, promised that the death penalty aspect will be reviewed.

Olunifesi, who is also the executive director of ACMID, said the social media and hate speech bills are damaging.

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“All over the world, the trend has been civil laws, not damaging or criminal laws. When the government has the power to gag the media and the narratives, it leads to impunity,” Olunifesi said.

 

“When you see the bill, it talks about setting up a commission. That’s waste of money. We don’t all that. The only thing that makes sense in the bill is page 12 which talks about obligation of the commission in terms of education and teaching people about ethnic tolerance. That function can be carried out by the National Orientation Agency (NOA). So, another body is a waste of money unless the government has ulterior motives.”

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