IBAN Faults N5m Fine Imposed On Nigeria Info

A file photo of IBAN logo.

 

The Independent Broadcasting Association of Nigeria (IBAN) has condemned the fine of N5 million imposed on a Lagos-based radio state – 99.3 FM Nigeria Info by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC).

IBAN made the position known in a statement by its Chairman, Mr Guy Murray-Bruce, following an emergency meeting of its board members held on Monday to review the action of the regulatory agency.

It noted that while it was among the responsibilities of the NBC to regulate broadcasting in the country, the amount imposed on the radio station was excessive.

READ ALSO: NBC Fines Radio Station N5m For Unprofessional Broadcast

The association also faulted the amendments to the 6th broadcasting code, stressing that it was premature for the NBC to implement such without a universal buy-in to the modifications made.

It insisted that the agency cannot take up the responsibilities of an accuser, a judge, and an executioner when issues come up.

A file photo of the acting Director-General of NBC, Professor Armstrong Idachaba.

 

IBAN advised NBC to refer any alleged infraction of a broadcasting entity to the appropriate quarters for determination before sanctions were imposed.

It also proposed that stakeholders and management of the NBC should enter into another round of consultations and dialogue on the amendments to the 6th Broadcasting code as a way forward.

Read the full statement below:

The Board of the Independent Broadcasting Association Of Nigeria held an emergency board meeting on Monday 17th August, 2020 to deliberate on the issue of the recent Five Million Naira (N5m) fine imposed on one of our members (Nigeria Info FM) by the National Broadcasting Commission for allegedly promoting hate speech.

While we concede the right to regulate broadcasting in Nigeria to the NBC, we wish to point out some cogent issues that must not be ignored in this instant case.

The Five Million Naira (N5m) fine imposed is excessive, as it is a creation of the now disputed amendments to the 6th broadcasting code.

We feel that in the absence of a universal buy-in to the amendments of the code, it is premature for the management of the commission to implement any aspect of the disputed amendments.

We also believe that the omnibus authority the NBC has arrogated to itself of being the accuser, judge and executioner in these matters, flies in the face of the principle of fair hearing.

The commission’s determination of what amounts to hate speech ought to be verified by an independent body before sanctions are imposed.

As it stands now, the commission could on a whim label anything hate speech and then go ahead to impose a fine without the accused having the benefit of a fair hearing.

Information available to us points to the existence of the Nigerian Press Council with the mandate to uphold ethical and professional standards in the media, investigate complaints against the Press, monitor activities of the press, research on contemporary press development, investigate obstacles to the flow of information, protect the rights and privileges of journalists.

In our view, the Nigerian Press Council which is made up of representatives from the following institutions, The Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE), Newspaper Proprietors’ Association of Nigeria, The Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria News Agency of Nigeria, The Federal Ministry of Information, and the general public is best suited to determine what might amount to a media infraction.

We, therefore, recommend that the NBC refer any alleged infraction of a broadcasting entity to the council for determination before sanctions are imposed.

We hereby respectfully call on the management of the NBC to hold off on imposing any sanctions until the above-stated issues are addressed.

Indeed, we recommend that stakeholders and the management of the NBC enter into another round of consultations and dialogue on the amendments to the 6th Broadcasting code as a way forward.

SIGNED

Guy Murray-Bruce

Chairman

Independent Broadcasting Association of Nigeria

Shehu Defends Mailafia’s Invitation, Says N5m Ineffective To Tackle Hate Speech

A file photo of the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu.

 

Mr Garba Shehu on Wednesday defended the invitation of Dr Obadiah Mailafia by the Department of State Services (DSS) over his recent comments on the Boko Haram insurgency.

In his appearance on Channels Television’s Politics Today, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity believes the DSS took the right decision.

“This is Nigeria; this is not Mali … Is this the first time the Department of State Service is inviting people for questioning?

“When somebody claiming to be a responsible citizen makes such a claim as Obadiah Mailafia did, saying that a governor is a commander for Boko Haram and he shouldn’t be asked questions, so what kind of society do we want?” the President’s aide asked.

 

Channels Television had reported that the DSS had invited Mailafia, a former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), at least on two occasions.

Mailafia was invited and grilled over his claims on a radio programme that the insurgents in the North East were enjoying the support of some governors.

This sparked an outcry with calls for investigations while the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) imposed a sanction of N500,000 on the station over what it called unprofessional broadcast.

In his reaction, Shehu took a swipe at those criticising the DSS for the invitation extended to the former CBN deputy governor.

According to him, people find it difficult to adhere to the laws of the country when they are compelled to be law-abiding in foreign nations.

 

The presidential aide said, “We are living in a country of people who will go to the UK and America and obey all the laws and in our country, when there is enforcement, they start crying… so, what is political about it?”

He also backed the increase in the fine for hate speech to N500,000, stressing that the current amount was still not enough to tackle the menace.

“As for the increase in the charge against hate speech, perhaps it’s the assessment of the minister,” Shehu said.

He added, “The N500,000 that was emplaced was not being respected, it was not effective in curtailing these things because somebody picking rumour and is going to the radio to announce that … come on, what are we dealing with?

“There has to be law enforcement in this country as it is happening with our citizens when they go outside the country.”

FG Launches Amended Broadcasting Code, Says Hate Speech Fine Now N5m

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, briefs reporters at the unveiling of the reviewed 6th Broadcasting Code in Lagos on August 4, 2020.

 

The Federal Government has launched the reviewed sixth Broadcasting Code of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC).

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, who unveiled the document on Tuesday at an event in Lagos revealed that the government has raised the fine for hate speech from N500,000 to N5 million.

He explained that the code was reviewed in line with the directive of the President for an inquiry into the regulatory role of the NBC in the wake of the 2019 general elections.

Mohammed noted that President Buhari had also ordered the probe of the conduct of the various broadcast stations before, during and after the polls.

He stated that following the inquiry, the President approved many recommendations aimed at repositioning the NBC to better perform its regulatory role.

The minister highlighted that notable among the recommendations was the need to amend the provisions in the Broadcasting Code and Act.

He, however, decried that reactions to the last amendment were concerns who thought their business interest was superior to that of the nation.

Mohammed also raised concerns that such persons have resorted to blackmail and using what he called hack writers.

He stated that the government’s intention was the good of the country and stressed the need to catalyse the growth of the local industry and create jobs for creative Nigerian youths.

A file photo of a camera.

 

According to the minister, opportunities must be created with a belief that effective regulatory interventions are guaranteed ways of attaining such.

He said the government would not waver and asked those who still have misgivings about the amendment to the 6th Edition of the Code to meet with the regulator and present their views.

Read the full speech of the minister below:

REMARKS BY THE HON. MINISTER OF INFORMATION AND CULTURE, ALHAJI LAI MOHAMMED, AT THE UNVEILING OF THE REVIEWED BROADCASTING CODE IN LAGOS ON TUESDAY AUG. 4TH 2020

PROTOCOL

Let me formally welcome all of us to this unveiling of the new amendment to the 6th Edition of the Broadcasting Code.

This event couldn’t have come at a more expedient time after the various stakeholders in the industry have ventilated their views on this all-important document.

This is an amendment to an existing 6th edition of the Code, which was launched in Kano in July 2019.

Before the launch of the Code in Kano, there were wide stakeholder meetings and discussions on virtually all the provisions of the 5th edition, which was now reviewed as the 6th edition.

The amendments were necessitated by a Presidential directive, in the wake of the 2019 general elections, for an inquiry into the regulatory role of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) as well as the conduct of the various broadcast stations before, during and after the elections.

Following the inquiry, Mr President approved many recommendations that will reposition the NBC to perform its regulatory role better. Key among the recommendations is the need to amend the provisions in the Code and Act.

The amendments are mostly in the areas of political broadcasting, local content, coverage of emergencies, advertising, and anti-competitive behaviour.

Ladies and gentlemen, there are many desirable provisions in the new Broadcasting Code:

– The provisions on Exclusivity and Monopoly: This Antitrust provision will boost local content and local industry due to laws prohibiting exclusive use of rights by broadcasters who intend to create monopolies and hold the entire market to themselves.

It will encourage Open Access to premium content. I must explain that this provision is not new to Nigeria Broadcasting. Exclusivity was disallowed at a certain time in the history of our broadcasting.

I recall Multichoice sub-licensing EPL matches to other local operators in Nigeria. I recall HITV engaging several local operators on sub-licensing the EPL when they got the rights.

– Sub-licensing and Rights sharing creates opportunities for local operators to also gain traction and raise revenue for their services.

– The law prohibiting backlog of advertising debts will definitely promote sustainability for the station owners and producers of content.

– The law on registration of Web Broadcasting grants the country the opportunity to regulate negative foreign broadcasts that can harm us as a nation. Such harms could be in the area of security, protection for minors, protection of human dignity, economic fraud, privacy etc.

– The provisions on responsibility of broadcast stations to devote airtime to national emergencies: This provision obviously mandates terrestrial and Pay TV channels to make their services available to Nigerians at times of national emergencies – like the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic – for their education and enlightenment.

– The provision raising the fine for hate speech from 500,000 Naira to 5 million Naira.

Permit me to say that section 2h of the NBC Act specifically empowers the Commission to establish and disseminate a National Broadcasting Code and set standards with regard to the content and quality of materials for broadcast.

From the above, it is clear that it is a regulatory function to establish the Code. It is democratic when the regulator engages stakeholders to get their views.

This could be done in several ways, including questionnaires, conferences, face-to-face discussions, and focused group discussions.

Once the regulator has factored all the views, he takes a decision to codify provisions that best address the needs of the country. This is what NBC has done in this case.

What I have observed in the reactions to the last amendment are interests who believe that their singular business interest is superior to the national interest. Therefore, they have resorted to all kinds of blackmail, using hack writers.

Ladies and gentlemen, we remain unperturbed, because we are acting in the national interest. The Broadcasting Code is not a static document. As we often say, broadcasting is dynamic. Therefore, even the 6th Edition of the Code shall be reviewed at the appropriate time.

But, as it currently stands, the 6th edition and the amendments, which we are unveiling today, remain the regulations for broadcasting in Nigeria.

Our intention remains the good of the country. We need to catalyse the growth of the local industry. We need to create jobs for our teeming creative youths.

The opportunities must be created and we believe that effective regulatory interventions are a sure way of attaining this. That’s why we will not waver.

For those who still have misgivings about the amendment to the 6th Edition of the Code, we expect you to meet with the regulator and present your views.

As I said, there are opportunities for constant review of the Code, but please note that this latest amendment is signed, sealed and delivered, and we are committed to making it work for the good of the country.

I thank you all for your kind attention.

Let’s Find A Way To Tackle Hate Speech, Fake News – Lawan

 

President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan has said it is important to come to an understanding of the best approach in finding a way to address the challenge of hate speech and fake news.

According to him, as a democratic nation, where dialogue is characterized by ceaseless conflict, there can be no progress.

Lawan who was speaking during a town hall forum on Media, Regulation, Society and Governance in Abuja on Monday, asked if the country should rely on existing laws to deal with supposed infractions such as fake news and hate speech, or if there are even enough laws to deal with them.

“We are a democratic nation where dialogue, conversation, disagreement and agreement are central to how we resolve our issues.

“Where do we go from here as a nation, can we really say we have enough laws to deal with infractions and if so, are we implementing them enough? He asked.

READ ALSO: Okada Ban: Lagos Deploys 65 Buses Across Major Routes

He called on stakeholders to be dispassionate in addressing the issues, stating that the conclusion drawn from the town hall meeting will help the National Assembly and the Federal Government in addressing the challenges.

“As stakeholders in civil society, we should be dispassionate and be able to examine all matters critically.

“Emotions and sentiments hardly help in a gathering like this one, if our minds are open to all lines of thought; we’ll then develop a sense of perspective.

“Our conclusions will be subsequently helpful to the National Assembly and the government at large,” he added.

Algeria Plans To Ban ‘Hate Speech’

Algerians chant slogans as they take part in an anti-government demonstration in the center of the capital Algiers on January 10, 2020.
RYAD KRAMDI / AFP

 

The president of protest-hit Algeria, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, plans to outlaw “hate speech” that has proliferated on social networks in recent months, his office said Monday.

Tebboune asked Prime Minister Abdelaziz Djerad to draft a bill “criminalising all forms of racism … and hate speech in the country,” according to a statement published by the official APS press agency.

The new initiative follows “an upsurge in hate speech and incitement,” the presidential statement said.

Algerian social networks have become a battleground for rival political camps after they gave rise to the popular “Hirak” protest movement that in April ended the 20-year reign of president Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

The tone became more aggressive in the run-up to a December 12 presidential election, held in the face of strong opposition from the protest movement which saw the polls as an attempt by the establishment to consolidate its power.

All five candidates who ran in the poll had links to Bouteflika, with Tebboune having served as one of his prime ministers. Official turnout was less than 40 percent.

The law would allow authorities “to confront those who exploit the freedom and peaceful nature of Hirak” by brandishing “slogans that undermine national cohesion,” the statement said.

The initiative has sparked fierce debate on social media between those who back it and those who see it as an unneccessary measure, with some wary that it could give wide scope to crack down on legitimate protest.

The planned law stipulates that “everyone is called upon to comply with the Constitution and laws of the Republic, in particular respect for… the Nation state and its values… as well as the symbols of the state.”

Nearly a year after the launch of the popular movement, its activists continue to demand an end to the governing system in place since the country’s independence from France in 1962.

 

AFP

My Party Originated Hate Speech – APC Chieftain

 

A human rights advocate and chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Joshua Alobo, on Monday, insinuated that his party originated activities that can now be interpreted as hate speech in the current administration.

Mr Alobo was responding to a question on Sunrise Daily, about the Department of State Services’ treatment of founder of RevolutionNow, Omoyele Sowore.

He said he was “seriously embarrassed” by the situation as Sowore was “among those who canvassed for the ‘change’ mantra.”

“APC, in which I am a chieftain, originates hate speech,” Mr Alobo, who is the President of the International Human Rights and Development Centre, continued.

“Look at what happened at . . . even Lai Muhammed and the rest, nobody was arrested. Look at the fuel subsidy protest at the freedom square. If not that Jonathan was proactive to deploy soldiers . . . I was in Abuja; even though I wasn’t in the general protest, I was using my vehicle to monitor the whole situation. 

“So a lot of showbiz was going on during the Jonathan administration, they don’t look at it as a threat to the government. What is Sowore? They are just making the guy to be too popular, I don’t know him as a person. But they have been reading Sahara Reporters right from Jonathan era, a lot of information has been disclosed and all those things. 

 

Mr. Joshua Alobo was a guest on Channels TV’s Sunrise Daily on Monday

 

“So if a media practitioner cannot express his opinion, then what will he do? And this is a man that has the pedigree of activism right from University. So the DSS for goodness sake should not bring another terrorist group. It is the suppression of Yusuf Muhammed that escalated into what we have now as Boko Haram.”

Sowore was re-arrested by the DSS on Friday less than 24 hours after he was released from the agency’s custody. The move has drawn condemnation from several quarters, including Nobel laureate, Wole Soyinka and the US government.

However, the DSS has said Sowore was re-arrested because he resorted to “acts inimical to security” shortly after being released from its custody.

Defamation, Libel Laws Inadequate To Tackle Hate Speech – Sabi Abdullahi

A file photo of Senator Sabi Abdullahi

 

 

The Deputy Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Sabi Abdullahi, on Thursday said existing laws on defamation and libel are grossly inadequate to tackle hate speech in its form.

He stated this against the backdrop of criticism and reactions to the introduction of the Hate Speech Bill by the National Assembly.

Senator Abdullahi who represents Niger North Senatorial District in the National Assembly explained that parliaments across the world have identified hate speech as a new “threat that dehumanises and targets individuals and groups, and also threatens peace in a diversified society.”

He stated that the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, which is a 47-nation member organisation, in a report identified threats posed by hate speech to include exclusion among minority groups, alienation, marginalisation, emergence of parallel societies, and ultimately radicalisation.

READ ALSO: ‘You Can’t Muzzle Nigerians,’ IBB Condemns Hate Speech Bill

The lawmaker warned that these were present features in the socio-dynamics of Nigeria as a nation and have placed the country on the brink of implosion from the effect of hate speech.

“The provisions of defamation and libel laws in Nigeria clearly lack the grip to tackle the dimensions of hate speech in acts such as victimisation, marginalisation, and exclusion,” he said in a statement.

Senator Abdullahi added that the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, in its resolutions contained in a publication entitled ‘The Role and Responsibilities of Political Leaders in Combating Hate Speech and Intolerance’, endorsed criminal legislation to prohibit and sanction hate speech.

The publication, according to him, read in part, “The Assembly believes that a wide range of measures is necessary to counter hate speech, ranging from self-regulation, particularly by political movements and parties, and in the statutes and rules of procedure of national and local elected bodies, to civil, administrative and criminal legislation prohibiting and sanctioning its use.”

Citing countries such as Germany and France, the lawmaker stated that the parliaments of both countries passed a landmark law in 2018 and 2019 respectively to fight online hate speech.

According to him, these and many other countries all have defamation and libel laws but have introduced legislation to tackle hate speech as a specific threat.

“Hate Speech bill is about prohibiting incitement to discrimination, hostility, and violence,” Senator Abdullahi stressed.

He explained that the new legislation passed by France and Germany compelled all social media networks to remove offending content as well as create buttons to enable users to flag cases of abuse.

In a related development, the lawmaker lauded the position of the United Nations on the introduction of the Hate Speech Bill without a death penalty by the National Assembly.

“I must commend the United Nations for its position on the Hate Speech bill without the death penalty.

“It goes to show that they understand the gravity of the problems and threats face by Nigeria as a united entity, and which the National Assembly is taking proactive measures to address with this bill,” he said.

NANS Warns FG Over Hate Speech, Social Media Bills

 

The national leadership of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) has cautioned the Federal Government over the proposed Social Media Bill and the Hate Speech Bill and called on Nigerians to raise their voices against the two bills.

At a press conference held at the Iweirohin House of the Nigeria Union of journalists in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, the National Public Relations Officer of the Association, Azeez Adeyemi, described the bills as anti-human which if allowed to stand could undermine the rights of Nigerians.

“Our attention has been drawn to an attempt by the federal government of Nigeria in connivance with a senator representing Niger-East, Senator Muhammad Sani Musa to silence the Nigeria populace especially the youth of which the students constitute it largest percentage through a social media bill,” he said.

“The bill had last week passed the second reading at the floor of the red chamber, which means it is on its way to becoming a law”.

“Part 3 (12) of the bill gives law enforcement agencies the power to shut down access to the internet and social media without recourse to the National Assembly or a court.”

“There is no doubt that the Nigerian government is all out to clamp down on critics of their anti-human policies and acts. However, any government going this way is gradually moving toward anarchy, a point Nigerian students will resist with every strength we have.”

Read Also: 50% Of Journalists Could Be Jailed If Hate Speech Bill Is Passed, Says Rep Member

“In a related development, through Sen. Sabi Abdullahi (APC, Deputy Chief Whip), the Nigerian government is also backing a Hate Speech Bill, otherwise called the ‘Prohibition of Hate Speech Bill’.”

He believes that the bills could infringe on the fundamental rights of Nigerians.

“These bills are tactical moves to shut the ordinary man, youths and the journalist to pave way for their impunity.”

“If this bill is allowed to thrive, the government will be vested with the sole power to determine what a hate speech is, and as a result witch shunt opponents and even journalists.”

“On this note, Nigerian students stand firm against the social media bill in totality and every other thing it might stand for.”

“We have students in other countries of the world but they will never be caged the way the Nigerian government is trying to muscle us as if they want the world to end in this century.”

“Even when the social media bill is yet to be passed into law, lawmakers are beginning to witch shunt our students who talk about their anti-masses behaviours on social media.”

“It should be noted that only a students/elite could identify most of these wicked act of politicians as some of them pose to be good intentions even when they meant the opposite.”

An injury to one is an injury to others

“As we speak, one of our students, a second-year student in the Department of Science and Technology Education, Bayero University,
Yahuza Tijjani is currently in prison custody for speaking his mind on his Facebook wall allegedly against a member of the state assembly. ”

“He was picked since September 30, 2019, after posting the following on his Facebook wall “You know he’s not well educated, as a result of which he doesn’t know how to calculate figures. He said 1230, he later said 1500 and at the ended saying 2000.”

“In another post, Tijjani also wrote, “I pray to God almighty that the election petition tribunal [will] declare the election of state’s assembly member representing Madobi as inconclusive”.

“For posting the above, the lawmaker through the police got Tijani arrested, make him spend seven days at the state criminal investigation department, Police ‘Zone 1’ regional headquarters in Kano state before he was sent to jail by the magistrate.”

“However, the lawmaker, Kabiru Is’mail, and Tijjanis are natives of Madobi Local Government Area.”

“Clearly, this is a complete case of inhumanity to man and such a power-drunk attitude will not be allowed against any of our students in the country. ”

“To this end, we appeal to the said Hon. Kabiru Is’mail to as a matter of urgency release Tijjanis within the next 72 hours or joined the list of enemies of our students as we are ready to fight any oppressor to stand still on this issue.”

“We, however, enjoin our students in Kano state to remain calm and not take laws into their own hands as we shall confront when the time for that comes.”

“The National President of NANS, Com. Danielson Akpan has, however, directed that state Chairmen of NANS with indigenous students associations should stage a peaceful protest to their different state assemblies after which there will be a national students protest to the National Assembly against this anti masses bill,” he concluded.

Hate Speech Is The Root Cause Of Violence, Says Senator Abdullahi

 

Hate speech has been attributed to the root cause of violence across the country.

Senator Sabi Abdullahi, sponsor of the widely debated National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speech bill has said.

The bill is currently on the floor of the National Assembly and has created lots of reactions across the country, particularly the death penalty clause, which Senator Abdullahi has promised will be amended by the senate.

READ ALSO: Lawyer Says Hate Speech Bill Is A ‘Distraction, Waste Of Time’

Speaking on Channels Television Sunrise Daily on Tuesday, Senator Abdullahi explained that all the violence recorded in the country is preceded by hate speech and the bill when passed into law, will address the dangers hate speech poses for the country.

“I am still strongly convinced that the problem of hate speech is one that Nigeria must tackle. From what I have studied, both from a lot of scholars that have gone on the subject of violence in the country, there is a conclusion that almost all the violence is preceded by hate speech.

“Yes there may be a crisis between groups, but what will lead to violence is that somebody must have said something that is inciting to violence and that is how people who are innocent will fall victims, losing their lives and livelihood for no just cause because somebody somewhere is irresponsible enough to incite other people to that violence.

He added: “What is the cause of the violence? Hate speech is at the root of it. When we talk about hate speech, the issue of incitement comes in.”

The Senator urged Nigerians not to panic and detach emotional sentiments from the issue because the bill will reflect the views of Nigerians when it goes through legislative input by the National Assembly.

“Nigerians have agreed that there is a problem of hate speech, so the issue of agreement will come at the end of the day because the engagement process of the bill is still on and the beauty of democracy is that we are able to engage, have a conversation and talk through the issue whether good or bad and at the end of the day, if there is a consensus there will be r650 for action.”

Social Media Regulation: FG Not Attempting To Gag The Media – Lai Mohammed

 

Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed has said that the recent move by the Federal Government to regulate the social media space from fake news and hate speech is not aimed at gagging the media.

Mr Mohammed made this known when he received the National Executives of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) led by its President, Christopher Isiguzo on a courtesy visit in Abuja.

He said that if the NUJ and other media professional bodies, they should reach out and engages the government, instead of rushing to the media to condemn the move to protect the integrity of the media.

“As a professional body for journalists, the NUJ has its code of ethics for journalists, and this guides their operation. To the best of my knowledge, the trained, professional journalists cannot afford to engage in fake news, because this will kill public trust in the media. They also cannot afford to engage in hate speech, because of its implication for national peace and unity. After all, there has to be a country before you can even practice your profession.

“When we announced the plan to regulate the social media, we said clearly that the regulation is not an attempt to gag the media or muzzle free speech; we said journalists have nothing to fear.”

READ ALSO: Hate Speech Bill: Propose Death Penalty For Corrupt Politicians, Falana Tells NASS

Mr Mohammed urged media practitioners to lead in sanitizing the social media space because they will be the first victim when the people lose confidence in the media due to the reckless actions of non-journalists and purveyors of fake news and hate speech.

“We will not unilaterally impose measures aimed at injecting sanity into the social media space. We will work with stakeholders, including the NUJ, Guild of Editors, Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria, the Civil Society, Online Publishers, Bloggers, etc.

“Already, we have dispatched letters to these stakeholders. A government that has the intention of gagging the media won’t engage stakeholders in dialogue on the way forward.”

He explained that the Federal Government has taken the initiative to adopt the use of technology, legislation and regulatory bodies, but it is up to the stakeholders to decide the best option.

“But we have also taken the initiative to meet, very soon, with the platform owners, like Facebook, Whatsapp, Google, Twitter and Instagram, among others, to engage them on the way forward.

“But I must say that rushing to reject the plan without bothering to understand what it entails is not helpful, and constitutes panic reaction.”

Mr Mohammed stated that the Federal Government will still go ahead with the plan to stop purveyors of fake news and hate speeches. Adding that, no responsible government will allow such acts to reign freely.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Senator Vows To Go Ahead With Bill To Establish Prohibition Of Hate Speech

File Photo

 

The sponsor of the bill to establish a National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speech, Senator Abdullahi Sabi, has vowed to go ahead with the bill despite criticism from various quarters.

Briefing journalists at the National Assembly on Monday, Senator Sabi explained that he is sponsoring the bill because of the dangers that hate speech portends for the country.

He added that the bill has no ethnic or political undertones.

Read Also: Senate Introduces Bill To Prohibit Hate Speech

The bill was introduced on the floor of the Senate on November 12.

According to the lawmakers, the purpose for which the Commission is being proposed is to eliminate all forms of hate speech in Nigeria and to advise the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on all aspects thereof.

The bill also proposes that any person who commits an offence deemed as hate speech, shall be liable to life imprisonment and where the act causes any loss of life, the person shall be punished with death by hanging.

Section 4 of the Bill defined the act of hate speech as:

(1) A person who uses, publishes, presents, produces, plays, provided, 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 behavior 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 person from such an ethnic group in Nigeria.

2) Any person who commits an offence under this section shall be liable to life imprisonment and where the act causes any loss of life,  the person shall be punished with death by hanging.

READ ALSO: FG To Sanitise Social Media, Combat Fake News

The bill proposal came about a week after the Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulations Bill 2019, passed through first reading at the Senate.

The proposed legislation seeks to prevent the broadcasting of falsehood and manipulations using social media platforms via internet broadcasts and transmissions.

It is reminiscent of the Social Media Bill which was introduced in the Eight Assembly but was not passed because of widespread condemnation of the bill which some Nigerians felt was intended to stifle freedom of expression.

Anti Hate Speech Bill An Abuse Of Legislative Process – Atiku

 

The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the last general elections, Atiku Abubakar, has said that the bill being conceived by the National Assembly to tackle hate speeches and other social media related contents is an abuse of legislative process.

In a statement on Tuesday, the former Vice President said the bill is one which will violate Nigerians’ constitutionally guaranteed right to Freedom of Speech.

He stated that the bill sponsored by Senator Sabi Abdullahi is obnoxious, adding that the lawmakers should rather make laws to tackle pressing domestic challenges across the country.

READ ALSO: Senate Introduces Bill To Prohibit Hate Speech

Atiku’s statement reads:

“Atiku Abubakar wishes to sound a note of caution to those now toying with the idea of an Anti Hate Speech Bill, with punishment for supposed Hate Speech to be death by hanging. The contemplation of such laws is in itself not just hate speech, but an abuse of the legislative process that will violate Nigerians’ constitutionally guaranteed right to Freedom of Speech.

Atiku urges those behind this Bill to awake to the fact that Nigeria’s democracy has survived its longest incarnation, because those who governed this great nation between 1999 and 2015 never toyed with this most fundamental of freedoms. It is prudent to build upon the tolerance inherited from those years and not shrink the democratic space to satisfy personal and group interests.

Freedom of Speech was not just bestowed to Nigerians by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), it is also a divine right given to all men by their Creator. History is littered with the very negative unintended consequences that result when this God given right is obstructed by those who seek to intimidate the people rather than accommodate them.

We should be reminded that history does not repeat itself. Rather, men repeat history. And often, to disastrous consequences.

Nigeria presently has too many pressing concerns. We are now the world headquarters for extreme poverty as well as the global epicentre of out-of-school children. Our economy is smaller than it was in 2015, while our population is one of the world’s fastest growing. We have retrogressed in the Corruption Perception Index of Transparency International, from the position we held four years ago, and our Human Development Indexes are abysmally low.

It therefore begs the question: should we not rather make laws to tackle these pressing domestic challenges, instead of this Bill, which many citizens consider obnoxious?

Again, Atiku cautions that we must prioritise our challenges ahead of the whims and caprices of those who do not like to hear the inconvenient truth. Stop this folly and focus on issues that matter to Nigerians.”