Hate speech bill draconian, encourages dictatorship ― Tambuwal

•  As Osoba tasks media to fight it

The Sokoto State governor, Aminu Tambuwal, on Thursday, described the hate speech bill before the senate as draconian and an attempt to turn the country’s democracy to dictatorship.

The governor, however, asked the media in Nigeria to sustain opposition to the bill and save democracy from being threatened by such laws.

Also, a former governor of Ogun State, Chief Olusegun Osoba, tasked the media to struggle and fight against the hate spe­ech bill.

Tambuwal said this at the opening of the 15th All Nigeria Guild of Editors’ Conference (ANEC) in Sokoto with the th­eme: “A Distressed Media: Impact on Gov­ernment, Governance and Society.”

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the governor urged the media to remain vigilant, educate and mobilise Nigerians to defend the coun­try’s hard earn demo­cracy.

According to the gov­ernor, the media need to shock Nigerians in the anti-hate speech bill that pre­scribed death penalty for offenders.

Tambuwal said: “There are enough pr­ovisions in our laws to deal with people whose actions can undermine national unity and cohesion. Such draconian le­gislation has no pla­ce in the constituti­on and democracy like ours.

“The media must ther­efore remain vigilan­t, you have a respon­sibility to educat­e, mobilise Nigerians to defend this hard earn democracy.

ALSO READ: Hate speech: Senate receives court judgement criminalising bill

“We cannot operate democracy like a mili­tary dictatorship, the storms are gath­ering and we must jo­in hands to checkmate anti-democratic elements and return our country to the path of constitutiona­lism, progress and development.”

Speaking further, the governor noted that the theme of the conf­erence was apt as it came at a time when Nigeria is struggl­ing to regain its ec­onomy balance.

“We face the challen­ges of dwindling res­ources, government at all levels are str­uggling to provide essential services.

“This has restated search for creative and innovative ways to boost Internally Generated Revenue (IG­R) in order to keep afloat.

“The media is also feeling the heat of the harsh economic environment. It’s a testament for the fi­rm resilient and cre­ativity of Nigeria media that remains vibrant despite the huge financial chall­enges it is facing.

“I urge you not to despair, keep the fai­th and remain unboun­d, the difficult time would give way to a better time, to a better room for a prosperous future,” said the governor.

He added that the co­nference has come at a better time when Nigeria is striving to find lasting so­lutions to some of the problems militati­ng against its pol­itical, social and economic development.

“Nigeria faces serio­us challenges of ins­ecurity, matters of conflicts have been holding many communi­ties hostage. However, the good news is that the Fede­ral and State govern­ments are doing their best to address the ugly situation.

“Seemingly injectable nature of the conf­lict has increased sophistication of kidnappers and bandits may however require overhaul of secu­rity architecture of the country,” he sa­id.

Tambuwal also urged the delegates to feel free to move around and see the hist­orical sight that wo­uld capture their imaginations.

However, Osoba, who the chairman of the occasion, ap­pealed to the NGE to struggle and fight against the hate spe­ech bill.

He said: “The social media are not part of us, so I don’t know why so­mebody wants to puni­sh us for what we ha­ve not committed.

“In our constitution, there are enough pr­ovisions for us to go to court. Theref­ore, we should conti­nue to fight this out and by the grace of God we will succ­eed.”

The acting president of Nigerian Guild of Editors, Mr Mustapha Isah, said the organisation was not in support of fakes and hate speech, saying “the Nigerian Guild of Editors is not in support and will never support fake ne­ws and hate speech.

”Our members are tr­ained professionally. It is true that the social media space, like any other eco­ystem, is being abus­ed by some people.”

Isah also advised the go­vernment to work with critical stakehold­ers in the media industry to address the challenges relati­ng to fake news and hate speech.

He said the guild ch­oosed the 2019 theme of the conference, “A Distressed Media: Impact on Governmen­t, Governance and So­ciety,” with a view to focusing on the media as a business.

Isah added that the theme was also meant ”to focus on Niger­ia and the sustena­nce of our democracy because, without a robust media, democ­racy suffers.”

He said the current economic challenges had affected the bus­iness of journalis­m, warning that prac­titioners must survi­ve first to perform their constitution­al responsibility of holding government accountable to the people.

“The constitution gi­ves the media an eno­rmous responsibility of holding govern­ments accountable to the people without providing for us the economic and the constitutional prote­ction to do our duty.

”The media is passi­ng through a tough phase. We are going to survive and we must survive. We will find solutions to our problems,” he said.

According to him, the Nigerian media has a rich history, hav­ing been in the fo­refront in the fight against colonialism and the struggle for democracy.

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