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‘Social media, hate speech bills add no value to society’

'Social media, hate speech bills add no value to society'

A civic group, Resource Centre for Human Rights and Civic Education has said the proposed bills on social media regulation and hate speech would not add any value to the nation.

The group described the legislations as ill-conceived and an assault on the constitutionally-guaranteed rights of citizens to free speech.

Executive Director, CHRICED, Dr Ibrahim Zikirullahi, who said this at a news conference in Abuja on Monday, noted that the Nigerian Cybercrime Act, 2015, had sufficient provisions to address the gaps in the law relating to the misuse of the social media.

He stated, “While we do not in any way endorse the use of social media to promote hate speech, fake news and disinformation, it is an over-reach for political actors to use legislative power to deny the rights of citizens to free expression.”

Zikirullahi noted that the elite are acting on the basis that they were untouchable because they are in control of political power, adding that this feeling of invincibility was giving them the confidence that they could use the draconian legislation to haul others into jail.

“The champions of these legislations do not seem to realize that if they do not tread with caution, they could someday become victims of the very legislations they are attempting to enact to harass other citizens,” he said.

The activist advised the arrowheads of the discredited bills to shift their focus to more productive ventures, including making laws to tackle the dilapidated health infrastructure, collapsed education system, poverty, crimes, unemployment, corruption and terrorism in the country.

The group condemned the violence which trailed the elections in Kogi and Bayelsa States and called on security agencies to bring to justice the killers of the Peoples Democratic Party woman leader in Kogi.

It said, “In the face of the lackadaisical attitude of the ruling party to ensure such electoral criminals are held to account, citizens and civic groups must now consider exploring offshore alternatives.

“It is high time the International Criminal Court to which Nigeria is a signatory play a role in ensuring democratic accountability in the face of impunity in Nigeria.”

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