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Outrage Greets Senate’s Death Penalty for Hate Speech 1ec5e38c senate 696x423 300x182
Outrage Greets Senate’s Death Penalty for Hate Speech
•Bill scales first reading
•Monitoring agency underwa
The Senate came under fire yesterday for proposing the Hate Speech Prohibition Bill, which seeks to criminalise the offence with death as a penalty.
The bill, which passed first reading at the plenary yesterday, seeks to establish a federal government agency to check hate speech.
But senior lawyers, activists and a chieftain of Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, who spoke with THISDAY, condemned attempts to make hate speech a capital offence and urged the National Assembly to tread carefully on the issue.
The bill, sponsored by a former Senate spokesperson, who is now the Deputy Senate Whip, Senator Sabi Abdullahi, is entitled “National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speeches (Establishment etc) Bill 2019.”
Abdullahi had sponsored a similar bill in the Eighth Senate, which prescribed among others, death by hanging for anyone found guilty of the offence.
The bill Abdullahi presented to the previous Senate said an offence is committed when “a person publishes, presents, produces, plays, provides, distributes and/or directs the performance of any material, written and/or visual, which is threatening, abusive or insulting or involves the use of threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, commits an offence if such person intends thereby to stir up ethnic hatred, or having regard to all the circumstances, ethnic hatred is likely to be stirred up against any person or persons from such an ethnic group in Nigeria.
“A person subjects another to harassment on the basis of ethnicity for the purposes of this section where, on ethnic grounds, he unjustifiably engages in a conduct which has the purpose or effect of (a) violating that other person’s dignity or (b) creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for the person subjected to the harassment.
“Conduct shall be regarded as having the effect specified in subsection (1) (a) or (b) of this section if, having regard to all the circumstances, including in particular the perception of that other person, it should reasonably be considered as having that effect.”
Part two of the 26-page bill talks about the discrimination that the bill applies to include ethnic discrimination, hate speech, harassment on the basis of ethnicity, offence of ethnic or racial contempt, discrimination by way of victimisation and offences by body of persons.
In his own reaction, human rights lawyer, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), called on Nigerians to rise up against the bill, to ensure that it does not see the light of day.
He wondered when making a speech which is guaranteed as freedom of expression under Section 39 of the 1999 Constitution, became punishable by death.
Ozekhome described the bill as ill-intentioned, ill-conceived, and ill-digested to breed dictatorship and absolutism.
“An obnoxious law such as this will further drive underground and into hiding, the opposition and genuine social critics, who speak truth to power and criticise serial opaque, anti-people, corrupt and high-handed policies of government,” he added.
According to him, since the current government has been tested and known to be allergic to constructive criticisms, the bill if allowed would embolden it to clamp many Nigerians in detention.
Ozekhome’s other colleagues also warned the Senate against passing the bill, describing it as a violation of the 1999 Constitution.
Mr. Dayo Akinlaja SAN, while describing the move as weird and absurd at this age, said inasmuch as the menace of hate speech in the country should not be tolerated, there was need for caution to ensure that innocent people did not suffer.
“As much as one would not want to condone anything like hate speech the reality is that one would have to be extra careful to avoid the possibility of an abuse,” he said, adding: “If the punishment is that capital, then what happens if somebody is wrongly accused? That is rather absurd and preposterous at this age and I pray that such a thing does not come through.”
Dr. Kayode Olatoke SAN also noted that the bill violated constitutional provision on freedom of speech.
Olatoke while recalling that the matter is already a subject of litigation at a Federal High Court, stressed that the punishment is outrageous when compared with other similar crimes, which borders on law of torts.
He, however, urged the National Assembly to refrain from going further with the bill until the issue is resolved in the court of law.
Another SAN, Mr. John Baiyeshea, expressed confidence that the National Assembly would listen to public outcry.
“I’m sure the sentence will be reviewed/reduced to terms of imprisonment”, he said.
Mr. Ahmed Raji SAN called for a probe of what constitutes hate speech in the proposed law.
“I think we should start by probing into what constitutes hate speech under the proposed legislation. Notwithstanding what may constitute hate speech, the world is moving away from death penalty,” he stated.
Also, human rights activist and Executive Director of Environmental Rights Action (ERA), Dr. Nnimo Bassey, told THISDAY that it was outrageous and shameful for the Senate to contemplate a bill of that nature.
He said: “Death penalty for so called hate speech; who decides what constitutes hate speech? Our political leaders? If social media statements that have landed some Nigerians in the Gulag approximate what the drafters of this bill have in mind, then there is real threat of a dark cloud over Nigeria. The idea smacks of total insensitivity and is not expected of even the most autocratic. It is a bill with murderous intent. The National Assembly should spend its time on bills that deepen rather than constrict the democratic space. This bill should be withdrawn!”
A chieftain of the Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, said he was speechless.
“This is inconceivable in a Senate under a constitutional democracy. There is no arrest or prosecution for Fulani herdsmen’s atrocities not to talk of death penalty for culprits but for free speech. God Save Nigeria,” he said.
Also reacting, a former Special Adviser to ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo on Political Matters, Mr. Akin Osuntokun, said the new bill would amount to mindlessness.
“It is like using a bulldozer to crush a mouse. In the first place, classifying what qualifies as hate speech is problematic and prone to abuse. It will end up creating more problems than it can solve. There are extant laws that can be adapted for the same purpose. The law against defamation for instance,” he said.
Also in its reaction, the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in a statement jointly issued by the President, Chris Isiguzo and National Secretary, Shuaibu Usman Leman, said most actions being taken in recent times were deliberately crafted to target and silence journalists.
“Safety implies freedom from danger and, in the news gathering context, safety implies protection from a range of threats journalists encounter, including arrest, legal action, imprisonment, kidnapping, intimidation and murder, amongst others. Journalists that are hitherto exposed to more danger in violent armed conflicts than in peace and stable situations, now face greater threats in a democracy like Nigeria. These threats and attacks against the media are aimed at inducing fear and self-censorship and regrettably these are the basic strategies of authoritarian regimes and not democracies like in Nigeria,” the NUJ

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APC are Yahoo Yahoo, uncertainty pervades Nigeria under Buhari – Pastor Giwa

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APC are Yahoo Yahoo, uncertainty pervades Nigeria under Buhari – Pastor Giwa hMGGwQoV 1024x576 2

A senior Pastor of Awaiting The Second Coming of Jesus Christ Ministry, Adewale Giwa says it has become difficult to predict Nigeria under the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.

Giwa spoke on Sunday, while addressing his church members on national issues.

His comment was against the backdrop of the Supreme Court judgement on Bayelsa, which nullified the governorship election of the All Progressives Congress (APC).

Giwa noted that any Prophet of Pastor trying to predict what will happen next in Nigeria is deceiving himself, adding that Buhari and his party stalwarts are only those who understand what is currently going on.

“You have seen how someone who came fourth became the governor, you have also seen how a sin of the deputy governor affected the governor. President Buhari’s controversial political decisions have affected the judges in discharging their duties”, Giwa said.

“This is a country where Boko Haram leader is warning the sitting president not to visit a particular state again. This is a country where the president has woefully failed to protect the citizens.

“They are running after Yahoo boys, not knowing they are the real Yahoo Yahoo. APC came to power to dupe Nigerians. They came to power to add to the pain of the people.

“A bag of rice was sold below N8,000 before they came to power, ask them how much they sell it now. Should President Buhari wait till someone tells him that he has failed in all ramifications?

“Under this government, a Minister is requesting for $500m to upgrade NTA to the status of CNN. Under this government. Anyway, it is a lesson for Nigerians like the book of Mark 4:23 says ‘if anyone has ears to hear, let them hear.’

“We have learnt our lessons like Israelites did each time they abandoned God. The bible is clear that a society or nation that embraces wickedness will not last. Can’t you see what is happening right now?

“President Donald Trump of the United States promised to protect his people before he became the president, and he is doing just that. President Buhari promised us security, but our people are being killed on a daily basis.

“They promised us food, but our people are going to bed hungry. A functioning state requires that everything is governed by laws, according to Aristotle. In Nigeria, our leaders are tyrannising everyone. I have said it that what is happening in this country has gone beyond prayers.

“What we need to have a better country is to take action. We have what it takes to make Nigerians happy; they have sold their souls to the devil, but God will show them that He is God.

“Killers are being released while innocent people are suffering. Whoever supporting these evil people to unleash acts of terror on Nigerians shall be disgraced publicly.

“I send Holy Ghost fire in their camps to cause confusion among them in Jesus Name. God will make them to fight one another in the mighty Name of Jesus. It is well with Nigeria, it is well with those who walk with God accordingly.”

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Amotekun: NBA demands compulsory psychiatric test for operatives

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Amotekun: NBA demands compulsory psychiatric test for operatives AMOTEKUN 7 1280x720 1 1024x576 1

The Chairman of Ado Ekiti branch of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has called for mandatory psychiatric test for the personnel of the Ekiti State Security Network Agency called ‘Amotekun’ as part of recruitment rules.

Falade said the step became sacrosanct in view of alleged incessant misconduct of conventional security agencies, leading to brutality and unwarranted incarceration and killings of Nigerians.

The bill establishing the outfit, now awaiting Governor Kayode Fayemi’s assent, was on Friday, passed into law by the Ekiti State House of Assembly.

Speaking in Ado Ekiti on Sunday, the NBA boss said he had made the suggestion for the inclusion of mandatory psychiatric examination at the assembly’s public hearing held on Thursday, as part of the prerequisites for qualification for Amotekun operatives.

He said section 19 of the Ekiti State Security Network Agency bill sent to the House spoke about qualification, but issue of mental stability was not put into account, which he said spurred him to raise observation about that.

“Under the interpretation of sections, arms should not mean firearms alone, it should also include axes, cutlasses even stick. That I think would have been taken to into account before passage.

” Also, I proposed that in addition to criteria for employment of officials, a mandatory psychiatric test should be added in the law as stated in Section 19 which dealt with recruitment.

“The passed bill before transmission to the executive with amendments should include this. The mental stability of whoever carries arms matter to Nigerians.

“We have seen cases of how Nigerians were being abused by security operatives. We have seen how those that were supposed to guarantee safety ended up killing innocent people over flimsy excuses.

“I appeal to the House to effect this while doing the amendment before transmitting to the executive.

“I observed that the composition of a board that will superintend over the Agency was contained in the passed bill. I believe the board will be given the powers to set their own rules and criteria for recruitment when they begin operation.

“The board must adopt this as part of the rules for recruitment even if it ends not being part of the amendments.

“This should be taken seriously in the recruitment exercise so that the operatives won’t turn out to be lawbreakers”, the NBA boss said.

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