The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on Wednesday condemned, in its entirety, what it called “the savage, repressive, cruel and murderous intents of the hate speech ‘prohibition’ bill, which seeks stringent punishment, including death by hanging as a penalty.”
A statement issued in Abuja by Kola Ologbondiyan, the National Publicity Secretary, noted that in as much as the party does not condone hate speech under any guise, it rejects the bill as “unconstitutional, undemocratic and a barbarous design targeted at official extermination of voice of dissent and perceived opponents of the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led Federal Government.”
The PDP noted that the nation already has enough constitutional provisions and extant laws to safeguard a sane and healthy public expression space and cannot allow such cruel law devised to victimise and persecute the citizens, ostensibly as a regime protection measure.
The statement added: “Such laws can only find space in Hitler’s Germany, Mussolini’s Italy, Idi Amin’s Uganda and not in this era or in a democratic state such as Nigeria.
“The resurfacing of the cruel bill in the Senate, after Nigerians vehemently rejected it last year, only points to the incurable desperation of the APC Federal Government to suppress and crush the will of the citizens at all cost.”
The party pointed out that the provisions of the bill are deliberately hazy and nebulous with the malicious intention to victimise innocent Nigerians.
“Such obnoxious laws are characteristics of known anti-democratic regimes, as a prelude to their suspension or abolition of constitutional provisions to set the stage for totalitarianism,” the party argued.
It posited: “If allowed to pass, the hate speech ‘prohibition’ bill, with its savage provisions, would destroy our democratic order, strip our constitutional provisions, the rights of citizens and usher in a full-blown despotism in Nigeria.”
The PDP challenges the proponents of the bill to start by condemning and setting penalties for those behind the ‘body bag’ comments as well as the ‘baboon and the dog blood’ narrative, which led to bloody unrest and the death of many innocent Nigerians.
It cautioned the APC and its Federal Government to retrace their steps and withdraw the noxious bill.
The PDP also charged the National Assembly to protect the nation by throwing away the bill and, “if anything, use its legislative instruments to strengthen our institutions and authorities vested with the regulation of public expression in line with the provisions of the 1999 constitution (as amended).”