A right group Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR) Lagos branch has called on the government to jettison the move to criminalise free speech through the hate speech bill.
The rights group stated this on Tuesday during this year’s Annual World Right Day with the theme “Criminalisation of Rights of Freedom of Speech and Expression” with a sub theme “Role of the media in promoting human rights and curbing fake news in a democratic setting”.
Comrade Alex Omotehinse, State chairman of CDHR Lagos branch said “The 1999 Constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria and the African Charter on Human and People’s rights respectively guarantee the freedom of speech and expression and thus all attempts by any institution or individual to infringe on that rights as enshrine will not only lead to peoples revolt but anarchy. The recent clampdown of media practitioners with fictitious and obnoxious charges is a serious threat to our hard earned democracy, rule of law, civility and corporate existence that must be urgently resisted.”
Speaking further on the role of CDHR in upholding the rights of Nigerians, Comrade Omotehinse said “CDHR is using this medium to reaffirm our position against the present ongoing anti-masses agenda of both state and federal government most especially, incessant arrest and detention of media personalities like Comrade Omoyele Sowore, Comrade Agba Jalingo and others. We challenge the leadership of the National Assembly to justify their huge take home pays by dissipating their energy on making laws with capital punishment to the treasury looters and not the voiceless masses”.
Speaking on the day’s theme, Mr. Mallam Moddibo Kawu, the Director General of Nigeria Broadcasting Commission represented by Dr. Chibuike Ogwumike said there is need for media practitioners to be professional in discharging their duties.
He said “Hate speech is any expression of discriminatory hate towards people: it does not necessarily entail a particular consequence. The media has the responsibility of accurately labeling certain expression as hate speech. This plays an important role in advancing the value of dignity and equity which underpin human rights. The media should condemn all propaganda and all organizations which proffer ideas or theories of superiority of one tribe or group of persons of colour or ethnic origin or which attempt to justify or promote religious hatred and discrimination in any form, and undertake to adopt immediate and positive measures designed to eradicate all incitement to, or acts of, such discrimination. All forms of mass media should recognize that they have moral and social responsibility to promote equality and non-discrimination for individuals with the broadest possible range of protracted characteristics.”