Nigeria has enough laws to clampdown on purveyors of hate speech and promoters of falsehood, says legal luminary, Chief Afe Babalola (SAN), Wednesday while condemning the controversial hate speech bill as proposed by the Nigerian Senate.
According to him, the bill, if allowed to sail through would finally thrust the country into another era of dictatorship.
Babalola, founder of Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti (ABUAD), said it was needless and unwarranted for anyone to contemplate another law to deal with false publications, when there were laws already promulgated to take care of such situation.
The bill, sponsored by the Deputy Chief Whip, Aliyu Abdullahi, has passed the first reading at the Senate, prescribing death penalty for anyone found guilty of spreading a falsehood that led to the death of another person.
Babalola spoke at ABUAD in Ado Ekiti after receiving award of excellence from the leadership of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Ekiti chapter.
He noted that the proposed bill flies against section 39 of the 1999 constitutions, which guarantee freedom of speech for citizens.
His words: “This is the beginning of dictatorship. There are enough laws like defamation, libel and slander to deal with anybody who publishes falsehood against someone and it comes by way of taking the person to court.
“So, it is of no need to making new laws to deal with somebody who publishes falsehood. There was no need whatsoever for additional laws to deal with that.
“Though, people are complaining, because the police are not doing well by delaying prosecution of offenders”.
Expressing his concerns over the desecration of the temple of justice, Babalola said the impression that judges could become subjects of attack by state officials under the current administration has made judges to become jittery while making court pronouncements.
“The Department of State Services did Irreparable damage to courts the very day houses of judges were ransacked at night, because no judge will give judgement against a government when he has the impression that his house will be searched at night”, he said.