The anti-hate speech bill by the Nigerian legislative body that recommends death penalty for offenders has been described as the most cruel and greatest crime against humanity in recent times and if the bill comes to pass, Nigeria will enter the Guinness Book of Records as one of the most wicked and darkest nations on earth.
The radical Mass Communication lecturer and public affairs commentator, Dr. Emmanuel Ufuophu-Biri, an Associate Professor at the Delta State University, Abraka, Nigeria who made this declaration, described the proposed law as wicked, devilish, horrible, anti-human, anti-societal development, anti-civilization and something manufactured from the deepest part of hellfire.
In a statement made available to the press, he disclosed that right from the time Julius Caesar established the first newspaper in the world, Acta Diurnal, around 50 BC in Rome, such a law as the one being proposed by the Nigerian legislators have never been heard of.
Dr. Ufuophu-Biri pointed out that this proposed law even outshines what obtained in the communist era in Russia where people who were perceived to have spoken against government were exiled to Siberia, sent to labour camps, imprisoned or dehumanized.
He noted that the proposed bill further makes Nigeria a laughing stock in the world and pointed out that “in other parts of the world lawmakers are pursuing developmental goals but here in Nigeria where the people are already suffering seriously in a country that is regarded as the world capital of poverty we the people are being subjected to such a draconian rule when we are not in the military regime.”
He disclosed that the “bill is targeted against press freedom, freedom of speech, freedom of expression, freedom of conscience, of religion and of gathering and this that negates the Nigerian Constitution that guarantees freedom of speech and of expression.”
He added that the proposed bill is a clear indication that the Nigerian legislators who are proposing this bill are behind time and outside of the real world and do not have respect for the fundamental human rights of Nigerians.
Dr. Ufuophu-Biri noted out that the bill is taking Nigeria into the category of North Korea where there is no freedom of speech and where the leaders can do anything to anybody and where failure to clap hand for the leader can lead to death sentence and execution.
He challenged the legislators to imitate what obtains outside Nigeria where their counterparts are making good law and bringing development to their nations and where their counterparts receive far less emoluments than they are receiving right now.
The University don called the bill an act of wickedness and cowardice in the sense that many Nigerians do not die out of hate speech but they die through violence, armed banditry, kidnappers, armed robbers, hunger, malaria, diseases, drought, flood and social deprivation.
He asked “is hate speech much more dangerous than armed robbery, more dangerous than kidnapping much more dangerous than corruption in the country, more dangerous than public fund being stolen massively by public office holders and why not executing people found guilty of corruption as is done in China?.” He pointed out that more people die from bad road, malaria fever, infant mortality and other diseases, social ills and failed infrastructure in the country than the perceived hate speech.
He disclosed that there are conventional and universal laws that guide communication and that such laws include law of sedition, of defamation, contempt of court, among others and that this bill that proposes death penalty is strange to law and strange to humanity and divinity.
Dr. Ufuophu-Biri advised the federal lawmakers to make laws that will bring sustainable development to Nigeria, eradicate or control corruption, protect human rights, reduce unemployment, stop insecurity, stop the importation of finished petroleum products and put smiles on the faces of the Nigerians again.
He warned that “if this death penalty bill against hate speech passes through and is signed into law, the legislators and many of their supporters may soon become victims of it…the bill is like throwing a stone into the marketplace”
He called on the United State of America, Britain, Canada, the European Union and other civilized countries of the world to sanction those behind this ‘deadly bill’, adding that Nigerian voters should speak to their constituency members in the National Assembly to drop the bill.
He disclosed that all members of this political dispensation at all levels are beneficiaries of freedom of speech and thus wondered why they want to gag freedom of speech under the disguise of hate speech.
He pointed out that the Nigerian press is the architect of the Nigerian independence movement and the fighters for Nigerian democracy when democracy was truncated by the military and that without press freedom and freedom of speech Nigeria would have still been under military rule and none of the lawmakers today would have been in the prestigious National Assembly.
The big question according to him is how to determine what constitute hate and added that the hate speech bill is just a target at the innocent Nigerians and probably perceived present and future political opponent and their supporters. He therefore advised the lawmakers to show some love for the people of Nigeria and stop proposing laws that are not good for even animals.