By Levinus Nwabughiogu
The member representing Ikwuano/Umuahia North and South Federal Constituency of Abia State in the House of Representatives, Hon. Sam Onuigbo has said that the lower chamber would not allow Nigeria to be taken back to the era of military rule through any piece of legislation.
Onuigbo gave the assurance while speaking to Vanguard in Abuja, Thursday on the heels of a certain bill emanating from the Senate to regulate both social media and setting up of a commission for hate speech.
The lawmaker who however condemned hate speech said that the House of Representatives was also conscious of the fundamental human rights of the people.
He added that the beauty of bicameral legislature is to ensure the enactment of quality laws for the nation, stressing that it was incumbent on the House to scrutinize the bill during harmonization before passing into law and subsequently, presenting it for the presidential assent.
Onuigbo: “We have so many laws beginning from the colonial days and all that. If you do a little study in law, you get different categorizations of speeches that should not be made like that. You get seditious comments, you get slander, you get when you commit libel and all that. These things are categorized.
“When you talk about hate speech, you talk about a speech that has the potential to incite one group either tribe or religion against the other that can create even loss of lives.
“Government is conscious of these things. It is not only when you call it to hate speech that it now earns that. But some of these are already provided in the criminal code.
“However, I will wait. I don’t plan to jump the gun until the bill arrives at the House of Representatives that we will examine it. That’s why we are talking about having two chambers of the legislature so that whatever the senate brings in if it requires further scrutiny, we do it to ensure that whatever bill we are passing for an assent, we know it is a bill that has the potential to help the nations and the people.
“But you know we cannot close eyes and go back maybe to the military era where human rights abuses occur or lack of freedom of speech, freedom of association where those things were significantly curtailed. We cannot go back there because, for about 20 years now, we have seen the difference between a democratic system of government and a military one. So, we wait and see.