By Augustine Akhilomen
Nigerians have condemned the decision of the Federal Government to increase the fine for hate speech from N500,000 to N5 million.
Recall that on Tuesday, Thepledge.ng reported that Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed launched the Reviewed Broadcasting Code in Lagos, where he also announced the hike in hate speech fine.
Nigerians, who were taken aback by the development, called out the Federal Government for being undemocratic and planning to subdue freedom of expression.
Reacting to the development, the Socio-Economic Rights & Accountability Project, SERAP, called on Buhari to reverse what it described as the “unconstitutional and illegal” increase, warning that it would not hesitate to institute legal action against the policy.
“We’re calling on President Buhari to immediately reverse the unconstitutional and illegal increase in ‘hate speech fine’ from N500,000 to N5m. We’ll fight to challenge this illegality in court to make sure that the fine doesn’t become another tool for repression,” SERAP fired on its twitter page.
Also reacting, the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) said the hike was an attempt to stifle the media and kill free speech through an unconstitutional means.
“This is an unconstitutional attempt at gagging the press. The press as the fourth estate of the realm plays the constitutional role of a watchdog of our democracy in the face of increasing impunity, seemingly official policy of disobedience of court orders, sheer exhibition of rascality by some of our security agencies and unbridled corruption in government.
“Gagging the press by increasing the fine for hate speech by 900 per cent is anti-people. The government should be more concerned about how to improve the welfare of Nigerians, stop the senseless killings in the country and give the people some hope that they have a government that cares. It is the failure of these core responsibilities of government that causes disaffection in society. These are the root causes and that is what government should deal with primarily, not scratching the surface.”
Also, former Kaduna lawmaker, Shehu Sani criticised the decision.
Sani, who took to his twitter handle, lamented that talk is no longer cheap in Nigeria.
“So talk is not cheap,” he wrote.
In the same vein, former newspaper editor, Fisayo Soyombo questioned the decision to increase the hate speech fine.
He said: “With the Nig Govt announcing it has raised the fine for hate speech from N500,000 to N5million, I’d like to know if there’s a price for hate leadership — leadership that robs, insults, depraves & impoverishes the people, either subtly or unashamedly. Is there a fine for that?
A section of Twitter users queried the effectiveness of the policy on hate speech, despite the plethora of hate speeches in the country political space, especially among politicians.
@iam_clive Please they should come and define the hate speech for us, I can’t come and pay N500,000 abi N5mil for saying the truth.
@FestusGreen Nigeeia’s HATE SPEECH Bill has no SPECIFIC definition & Buhari is sure to abuse it.
@ChidiOdinkalu It is not for a self-interested regime with undistinguished previous to make determinations as to what is or is not #hatespeech. That’s a charter for convenient political persecution. That is the kind of job that courts are established to do.
@oapaynigeria From N500,000 to N5 Million…Let’s just ignore the news. When it was at 500K, who many people were convicted? Misplaced priorities 🙄
@firstladyship Lie Mohammed said their banana republik, have raised hate speech fine from N500,000 to N5 million. They’ll have to begin the fine with El-Rufai, Lai Mohammad himself, Buhari the headmaster & their co-travelers. They should also build Max prison for people like me. Stupid Cap..
@__Omoissy Leaving the pressing issues and focusing on unimportant things. Useless govt.
@Matthewsky8 I don’t why politicians are playing with the masses..how shouldn’t give so much attention to irrelevant issues, what about what hav been ravaging the country as a whole, i mean what about the killer bea of the nation corruption..
@baobanor N5m for purported hate speech. Meanwhile, killer terrorists feign repentance, gets N20K, a pat on the back and back into society. SAD!!!
@Smithocracy Bail for corrupt politician = N100,000. Fake WAEC Certificate bail = Free. Fake NYSC certificate = Just Runaway. Stealing of Billions = Just Faint. Election Rigger = Free. Hate Speech = N5,000,000…Mad People!
NBA, SERAP, Sani, Others Kick Against N5million Hate Speech Fine
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By Augustine Akhilomen