Journalists in Nigeria can now heave a sigh of relief as the Niger State Governor Abubakar Bello has promised to lobby the National Assembly to drop deliberations on the hate speech bill.
Bello made the promise in Minna, the state capital when the national leadership of the Nigeria Union of Journalists visited him in his office. The governor however lamented that the social media has been infiltrated by non- practitioners and unqualified people who all referred to themselves as journalists adding that the attendant effect is that this group of people therefore practice the profession without conforming with ethical standards. The team which was led by the NUJ national President, Chris Isiguzo could not hide their joy as the news of the governor’s gesture was broken. While appealing to the Governor to rehabilitate structures of the state owned media, Isiguzo praised Bello’s approach to the educational sector.
After the visit, journalists were seen discussing with happiness, Governor Bello’s stand on the hate speech bill.
Nigeria is preparing legislation that could mean the death sentence for anyone found guilty of hate speech.
It is also contemplating new media laws that have earned it the accusation of trying to curtail free speech.
While hate speech on social media is a problem affecting the world, not many countries resort to such extreme measures as are in the offing in Nigeria.
Ignoring strong criticism, the nation’s highest lawmaking body, the Senate, is preparing a law which will make it possible to sentence to death by hanging anybody convicted of spreading hate speech. The Prohibition of Hate Speech Bill is being sponsored by Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, a lawmaker of the ruling All Progressives Congress party.
The bill, which was initially thrown out following a barrage of attacks, resurfaced suddenly a fortnight ago, going through two readings in just two weeks.