OrderPaperToday– Sponsor of the Hate speech bill, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, has described opponents of the bill as ignorant, and peddlers of falsehood in the guise of public interest.
In a press statement, the embattled lawmaker added that they are ignorant of looming dangers if the bill is not passed into law.
Senator Abdullahi, who is deputy chief whip of the Senate explained further that those against the passage of the bill are only pretending to protect ‘Freedom of Speech’ by misinforming Nigerians on the intent of the legislation before the National Assembly.
He warned the public to be wary of them as they spill out false information coated as serving national interest.
“Both Christians and Muslims have said that the media blatantly expresses bias against their religion, and that journalists will deliberately not report their story or perspective.”
He quoted the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) report as saying, “In some cases, false news about attacks have incited the people to undertake revenge attacks in various parts of the country.”
He cited more reports from the Centre for Information Technology Development (CITAD), which disclosed that there are strong indicators that make it imperative for the National Assembly to criminalise Hate Speech for being responsible for high cases of violence and killing.
The report reads in part: “In 2017, Nigeria experienced the continuation of three major conflicts that provided a fertile ground for the propagation of hate speech.
“These were the resurgence of the Biafra Agitation in the South East, the clash between the Army and members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, popularly referred to as the Shiites Movement in the North West, and the transformation of the localised farmers-herders conflict and cattle rustling to the large scale rural banditry that had taken an ethno-religious character across much of the North West and North Central zones of the country.”
“Across the country, scores of people were killed as a result of these conflicts, further providing fuel for the wildfire of hate speech. More than at any time in the recent history of the country, hate speech became widely used in public discourse and communication.
“They fueled a dynamic that weakened national cohesion and made it difficult for the country to collectively address the threat to peace that affected the population in the country”.