A chieftain of All Progressives Congress (APC) and security expert, Abayomi Mumuni has waded into the controversial Hate Speech Bills, saying that it will curtail provocative utterances and the spread of fake news in the Nigerian cyberspace.
The anti-social media bill sponsored by Senator Muhammed Sani Musa has been read for the second time on the floor of the Nigerian Senate, paving the way for its passage into law.
Mumuni argued that the Bill was necessary, given how most Nigerian social media users throw caution to the wind, creating palpable tension and making decorum impossible in the society.
In a statement made available to newsmen by his media aide, Rasheed Abubakar, the former Lagos gubernatorial candidate of the defunct CPC said, “The Hate Speech Bill would have been unnecessary had Nigerians taken caution in using the social media. In the absence of decorum, peace won’t reign. We should not throw the bill out because it has come to regulate the way we use the social media.
‘What are the contents of the Bill? What is controversial about it?,’ Mumuni asked, stressing that, “It says, in part, that a person must not carry out any act within or outside Nigeria that will be transmitted in Nigeria as a statement which could be a false statement of fact. Is their anything wrong with that? I won’t be surprised if many of those who kick against it didn’t have an idea of what the bill is about.”
Mumuni, who authored ‘Global Terrorism and its Effects on Humanity’ said, rather than condemning the Bill and its sponsor, Nigerians should have called for its regulation.
According to him,
“What should have been advocated for is the regulation of the bill in the sense that it would only cater for glaring cases of hate speech so as not to serve as a mechanism for witch-hunting, perceived oppositions or eliminating critical engagements on public policy”.
Speaking further, the Aare Jagunmade 1 of Lagos revealed that developed countries like France, Singapore, Malaysia, Italy and a host of others have legislations used to regulate public communication so as to ensure peaceful coexistence among the people in the society.
He noted that the use of social Media in Nigeria has actually become an outlet for the cowards, stressing that, “freedom of speech does not give one the licence to cause crises, wreak havoc and make unfounded claims”.
“The government should also try as much as possible to make the punitive measures be in tandem with the offense, in the sense that the ant would not be killed with a machine gun. The punishment attached to the offense should not be different from the ones obtainable in other countries in order to rule out the possibility of any political mission. I support fines or jail terms for offenders, irrespective of their status in the society,” he advised.
Allaying fears from the public, Mumuni, who later authored, ‘Demand by Terror’ urged Nigerians to give maximum support to the bill inasmuch as it is not to punish genuine critics, saying that only those who abuse the social media have cause to be afraid.
“The way forward is that people should understand that freedom of speech does not translate to causing crises and promoting falsehood. Doing such is unhealthy to our nascent democracy. As such, the guilty ones should not go unpunished to serve as deterrent to others” he concluded.
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This article first appeared on Linda ikeji’s blog.