By Yomi Adeboye
The International Press Institute (IPI, Nigerian chapter) has declared its opposition to any legislation that prescribed capital punishment or any other stiff penalties for hate speech and similar crimes.
It also called on the National Assembly to “patriotically explore the alternatives of either re-examining the provisions of the Cyber Crime Act (2015) to accommodate current realities or advocating the applications, when necessary, of its provisions to check any negative use of social media.”
This came through its response to the raging debates about the Hate Speech and other Media-related Bills believed to be currently being considered by the National Assembly.
A strong statement signed by Mallam Kabiru Yusuf (Chairman, IPI Nigerian Chapter), Mallam Wada Maida (Member, IPI Executive Board) and Raheem Adedoyin (Secretary, IPI, Nigerian Chapter) distanced the group from hate speech, fake news and other methods of misinformation on media platforms.
The statement reads:
“The Hate Speech and other Media-related Bills currently being considered by the National Assembly have continued to attract comments and condemnations from various sections of the society.
“Some stakeholders, including individuals and groups, have declared that the Hate Speech Bill is inimical to Press Freedom and the exercise of right to Free Speech.
“As the global network of Editors, Publishers, Media Executives, Communication Scholars, Senior Journalists/Media Executives and experts in the communication industry on press freedom, the International Press Institute (IPI, Nigerian Chapter) firmly understands the implications of any law with contentious provisions for free speech, press freedom, media independence, safety of journalism practitioners and the unhindered operations of media businesses.
“We wish to make it known that IPI does not in any way support the peddling of Hate Speech, Fake News and deliberate misinformation through any social or conventional media platform.
“We are aware that all of the aforementioned are usually the preserve of quacks and non-professionals who have no regard for the implications that such acts would have for our polity and for national peace and security.
“But we are decidedly opposed to laws with prescription of capital punishment and any other stiff and dehumanising penalties for such abuse of the media space.
“As responsible leaders of journalism, we appeal to all real stakeholders to go beyond the open condemnations by seizing the opportunity that would be presented at the impending public hearing to vigorously push for desired amendments or changes to any such Bill prior to its likely passage or rejection by the legislature.
“We also sincerely suggest that members of the National Assembly should patriotically explore the alternatives of either re-examining the provisions of the Cyber Crime Act (2015) to accommodate current realities or advocating the applications, when necessary, of its provisions to check any negative use of social media,” the statement concluded.