A senior lawyer, Afe Babalola, has described the hate speech bill still receiving legislative attention in the Senate, as a slide into dictatorship.
Mr Babalola, the proprietor of Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti (ABUAD), said it was unwarranted for anyone to contemplate another law to deal with false publications ”when there were laws already promulgated to take care of such situations”.
The bill, sponsored by the Deputy Chief Whip, Aliyu Abdullahi, has passed the first reading at the Senate.
The bill also prescribes the death penalty for anyone found guilty of spreading a falsehood that leads to the death of another person.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how dozens of protesters on Wednesday marched to the National Assembly gate to ask the Senate to drop the bill and another seeking to regulate social media.
The two senators who addressed the protesters pledged that despite the bill being sponsored by their colleague, the Senate would do the bidding of Nigerians.
Mr Babalola spoke at ABUAD on Wednesday, when the leadership of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Ekiti chapter, led by its Chairman, Rotimi Ojomoyela, met with him in his office.
They had presented an award of excellence to him to appreciate ”his contributions to humanity and national development”.
According to Mr Babalola, ”the provisions of the proposed bill in its entirety clearly contravenes section 39 of the 1999 Constitution, which guarantees freedom of speech”.
“This is the beginning of dictatorship. There are enough laws like defamation, libel and slander to deal with anybody who publishes falsehood against someone and it comes by way of taking the person to court,” he said.
“So, there is no need to make new laws to deal with somebody who publishes falsehood. There was no need whatsoever for additional laws to deal with that.
“People are complaining because the police are not doing well by delaying the prosecution of offenders.”
Mr Babalola also stated that with the current intimidation of judges, ”nothing good could come of the justice sector”.
“The Department of State Services did irreparable damage to courts the very day houses of judges were ransacked at night because no judge will give judgement against a government when he has the impression that his house will be searched at night,” he stated.
He also urged the federal government to focus attention on the rehabilitation of the dilapidating federal roads in Ekiti.
“Ekiti has four major federal roads: Ado-Ijan-Ikare, Ado-Ikere-Akure, Ado-Otun, and Ado-Aramoko-Efon, bad enough. All of them are in bad shape. Some have even cut off like the one at Erio,” he added.
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