Following the general public outcry that greeted the hate speech invoice, the Senate President Ahmed Lawan has stated the Senate received’t cross the proposed anti-free speech payments.
Lawan made the disclosure in response to an in depth written protest letter in opposition to the hate speech invoice and anti-social media invoice earlier than the senate by the Human Rights Writers Affiliation of Nigeria, HURIWA.
He stated legislators will hearken to the heart beat of the Nigerians who’ve rejected the payments and can do precisely as they demanded.
Lawan had in his letter to HURIWA dated November 20th 2019 which was endorsed by his Chief of Workers; Alhaji Babagana M. Aji however acquired on December 4th 2019 titled: “RE: WHY NATIONAL ASSEMBLY’S BILLS AGAINST FREE SPEECH ARE UNCONSTITUTIONAL: BY HURIWA,” said as follows:
“I write to current the compliments of the President of the Senate, His Excellency, Sen. Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan, Ph.D., CON and to acknowledge receipt of your letter on the above topic whereby you requested the Nationwide Meeting to droop advert infinitum the present makes an attempt at introducing obnoxious laws to curb entry to the social media.”
“His Excellency is appreciative of your concern in direction of upholding our structure and your members’ steady use of their skills as writers to advertise, shield and undertaking the human rights of all Nigerians. His Excellency assures you that the Senate is not going to cross any anti-people legal guidelines.”
“Whereas thanking you, please settle for the assurances of the President of the Senate.”
HURIWA had on November 13th, 2019 written to the senate by means of the workplaces of the Senate President titled: “WHY NATIONAL ASSEMBLY’S BILLS AGAINST FREE SPEECH ARE UNCONSTITUTIONAL: BY HURIWA” even because the group had argued that:
“Freedom of expression is among the basic rights offered within the Structure of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended). By advantage of the identical and different worldwide devices, it’s the freedom to carry opinions, obtain concepts and data and impart concepts and data with out interference. Social media is utilized in reference to the technique of expression aside from the mainstream media.”
Urging the Nationwide Meeting to cease forthwith any try to legislate legal guidelines that offend the Rights to Freedom of Speech the Rights group reminded the Nationwide Meeting that Freedom of Expression in Nigeria is grounded constitutionally in Part 39 of the CFRN entrenches the proper to freedom of expression within the following phrases:
“(1) Each particular person shall be entitled to freedom of expression, together with the liberty to carry opinions and to obtain and impart concepts and data with out interference.
(2) With out prejudice to the generality of subsection 1 of this part, each particular person shall be entitled to personal, set up and function any medium for the dissemination of data concepts and opinions:
Supplied that no particular person, aside from the Authorities of the Federation or of a State or some other particular person or physique approved by the President on the achievement of situations laid down by an Act of the Nationwide Meeting, shall personal, set up or function a tv or wi-fi broadcasting a station for the any goal in any respect.”
The Rights group stated related provisions are present in Article 9 of the African Constitution on Human and Peoples Rights, Article 19 of the Common Declaration of Human Rights 1948, Article 19 of the Worldwide Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
“It doesn’t seem a mere coincidence that part 39 of the CFRN which offers for freedom of expression comes instantly after part 38 which offers for proper to freedom of thought, conscience and faith. Subsequent to thought is expression. The premise for this proper, subsequently, can’t be overemphasized in a democratic society. It is among the important foundations of a democratic society and the fundamental situation for its progress and growth as held the European Court docket on Human Rights in Handyside Case.” Arguing that there are a plethora of determined instances guaranteeing free speech”.
HURIWA advised the senate that:“The Supreme Court docket per Ayoola JSC, within the case of Medical and Dental Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal v Okonkwo (2001) 85 LRCN 908 declared that the courts are the establishment, society has agreed to speculate with the accountability of balancing conflicting pursuits in a method as to make sure the fullness of liberty with out destroying the existence and stability of society itself. Therein lies the knowledge and wish for qualification of all rights together with this one most important proper.”
“Within the case of Gozie Okeke v. The State (2003) 15 NWLR (Pt.842) 25, the Supreme Court docket held that the phrase “affordable” in its abnormal that means means average, tolerable and never extreme. On this regard, there are extant legal guidelines in Nigeria which search to stop abuse of free speech. Part 24(1) of the Cybercrime (prohibition, Prevention, and so on) Act 2015 makes it a legal offence to ship a message or different matter by way of laptop techniques of community that’s grossly offensive, pornographic or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character or causes any such message or matter to be despatched or he is aware of to be false, for the aim of inflicting annoyance, harm, inconvenience, hazard, obstruction, insult, harm, legal intimidation, enmity, hatred, sick will or useless nervousness to a different or causes such message to be despatched. Additionally Part 24(2) of the Act criminalizes transmitting or inflicting the transmission of any communication by means of a pc system or community to bully, threaten or harass one other particular person the place such communication locations one other particular person in concern of demise, violence or bodily hurt or to a different particular person.”
“In the identical vein there’s the tort of defamation below a sufferer of abuse of freedom of speech can search redress apart from the legal offences of defamation and injurious false below the Felony Code and Penal Code. Part 391 of the Penal Code Legislation makes is a defamation to talk or characterize by mechanical means or by indicators or seen illustration or publish any imputation regarding one other meaning to or understanding or having cause to imagine that it’ll exhausting the fame of the particular person. Whereas a false assertion of truth below related circumstances is injurious false below part 393 of the Penal Code Legislation. There are related provisions in sections 373, 374 and 375 of the Felony Code Legal guidelines of the Southern States. In addition to, there are numerous provisions within the Nigeria Broadcasting Fee Act coping with violations which have change into often called “hate speech” with various levels of sanctions.”
HURIWA argued strongly in opposition to limitations to entry to social media and likewise rejected the hate speech invoice as follows: “To require greater than the present legal guidelines have offered would painting the federal government in unhealthy gentle and peach it in opposition to the folks and any such additional regulation will solely take Nigeria centuries again in civilization with attendant penalties of gross and flagrant abuse like within the colonial period or the fast after which had such over-regulation just like the legal guidelines on sedition by which loads of individuals had been steadily charged and convicted for what ordinarily could be truthful remark by residents of democratic society. A variety of these instances are excessive profile instances with potential to trigger political stress, have an effect on the peace and stability of your complete nation which the proponents of the of social media regulation declare to wish to stop. This could additional deepen the already entrenched mistrust between the folks and the federal government. This fashion, the federal government loses its proper and good thing about suggestions from the folks.”