Shina Abubakar – Osogbo
The Senator representing Osun East Senatorial District, Francis Fadahunsi has disclosed that his refusal to back the hate speech bill was because the bill was aimed at crippling quality journalism.
He said the real brain behind the bill was Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Muhammed, while Senator Sabi was just fronting for the minister.
Fadahunsi who was speaking with Journalists at the weekend disclosed that the bill was targeted at vibrant journalism, which has become the bedrock of the country’s democracy in the last two decades.
He said media practitioners all over the country must rise against the bill with a view to making sure it is crushed no matter the form it takes and the number of times it is introduced in the National Assembly.
The former customs officer reiterated that the media has been a critical stakeholder in the nation’s democratic experience and must be allowed to thrive irrespective of the shortcomings in the polity.
He wondered that no one accused the media of hate speech when it was fighting the military to enthrone democracy and when it was holding previous administration to account for its perceived inadequacies, saying it is surprising that an administration that rides to power on the vibrancy of the media is now accusing it of hate speech.
“It is important for all stakeholders in the country to stand against the hate speech bill because it is aimed at shutting the vibrancy of the media. I would not support such a bill as the media is now the most critical stakeholder in our democratic experience so far.
Senator Sabi Abdullahi only front for the bill, it actually originated from the Executive, specifically, Lai Muhammed and the sole motive is just to box the media into a corner, where it would no longer have the vibrancy to question those in public offices.
Every lover of democracy and rule of law must ensure that the hate speech is crushed no matter how it is introduced and the number of times it resurfaces in the National Assembly”, he added.
Speaking on the issue of arms smuggling, Fadahunsi said the problem the country has, especially with big weapons, is internal.
He said over 10,000 soldiers at the war front have deserted the war with lots of AK47s, automatic pistols and the likes which they sold to willing buyers before settling down into businesses for survival.
He opined that majority of other weapons finds its ways into the country through the porous northern borders on the back of camel, cows and donkeys brought in by Fulani traders from other West Africa countries that share a border with some northern states.
He sought strict border control that would not only police movement of rice but ensure that Nigerians are safe and foreigners are properly documented.
“You don’t just close the borders because of the smuggling of rice, the federal government must also ensure that the porous northern borders are properly managed to curb the influx of small and light weapons brought on the pretence of trading in cows, camels and donkeys in some market in the northern border towns.
“Besides, security operatives must take cognisance of soldiers that deserted the war front with lots of weapons, at least about 10,000 men have run away selling off their weapons to raise money for other businesses to make ends meet.
“The FG must find a means of mopping up those weapons for peace to reign in the country”, Fadahunsi added.