The Deputy Chairman Senate Committee on Defence and Senator representing Plateau North, Barr. Istifanus Gyang, has kicked against the Hate Speech bill and a bill for the protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulation which has passed second reading in the floor of the Nigerian Senate.
He said that as a representative, the controversial bill which prescribes the death penalty for Hate Speech, is unfriendly to his constituents and most Nigerians, and ought to be rejected based on the public outcry it has generated.
Senator Gyang in press statement signed by his Special Assistant on Media and Protocol, Musa Ashoms, said Nigerian citizens and foreign nationals have voiced out against the bills.
The statement reads:
“The Senator representing Plateau North Senatorial District has been inundated with messages, calls, emails, chats on WhatsApp and direct contact by citizens who are agitated and had to express their displeasure over the “Hate Speech” and “Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulation” Bills currently undergoing passage into law by the Senate, Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“The views so expressed align with his thoughts and position as the Senator representing Plateau North.
Moreso that there are extant laws in our jurisprudence that address the concerns raised by the two Bills.
“Having sworn to an oath to defend the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), Senator I.D. Gyang will not be a party to, nor grant consent to any proposed legislation that will compromise nor subvert the fundamental rights of citizens and in particular, the right to freedom of speech and expression guaranteed by the same Constitution.
“To deprive citizens of the right to freedom of speech and expression is tantamount to endorsing and introducing a regime of tyranny. This becomes even more draconian when death sentence has been prescribed as penalty in the Hate Speech Bill.”
Gyang said he has open a register at his Constituency office ‘The Peoples Parliament’ for citizens to sign and make their position known properly on the two bills.
He said the register would be presented on the floor of the house as the voice and wish of the people of Plateau North on the bill.
Meanwhile, National President of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Chief Chris Isiguzo, has noted with dismay the passage of the Hate Speech bill into second reading by the Senate despite the national outcry of citizens against it.
Chief Isiguzo, addressing reporters in Plateau at the weekend, said Nigerian journalists are prepared to resist the bill and would explore all avenues to fight the bill.