By Musa Adamu
Following the reintroduction at the National Assembly of a bill seeking to sanction hate speech in Nigeria, the Action Democratic Party (ADP) has cautioned the lawmakers against “gagging the freedom of speech of the citizens.”
Hate Speech Bill which was introduced on the floor of the Senate, is sponsored by the Deputy Chief Whip, Aliyu Abdullahi.
This comes on the heels of the social media regulation plan announced last month by the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed.
The ADP, in a statement on Tuesday, said the bill is “anti-democratic” and could plunge Nigeria into despotism if it scales through.
The party said the government should have nothing to fear from the social media space “If the government officials are clean and have nothing to hide.”
“It is even more absurd, that a senator, who was voted in by the people, can stand up on the floor of the Senate to propose death by hanging for citizens for expressing themselves, which the government sees as hate speeches,” the ADP said in the statement signed by its spokesperson, Adelaja Adeoye.
Referencing Chapter two, section 13-24 of the Nigerian Constitution, Fundamental Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy and chapter four, section 38, ADP said every person is entitled to “freedom of thought and conscience” which include “freedom of speech and how people express themselves on social media.
“In as much as we don’t want social media platforms to be regulated, we also urge our citizens to verify the kinds of information they will be putting out, to ensure that they are not injurious, libelous or can cause a threat to the life of another person.
“ADP urges the Federal government to face the business of governance, which is the main reason they were elected.
“The Federal government should start the sanitation from its members of aides, who deliberately put out fake information, in their bid to hoodwink citizens. There are occasions, where aides deliberately put out pictures and videos of non-existed projects, in order to promote their principals, this is also a negative use of social media.”
The party asked the lawmakers to drop the bill “because it will expose citizens to incessant attack, arrest and undue detention by the power mongers, who will abuse the process.”