Founder of Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti (ABUA) Chief Afe Babalola SAN has described the hate speech bill currently before the senate as the beginning of dictatorship in the country.
The bill sponsored by the Deputy Chief Whip, Senator Aliyu Abdullahi prescribed death penalty by hanging for anyone found guilty of spreading the falsehood that led to the death of another person and has since passed the second reading.
Babalola 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 legal luminary spoke with Journalists in ABUAD on Tuesday when the leadership of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Ekiti chapter, led by its Chairman, Com Rotimi Ojomoyela presented an award of excellence to him for his contributions to humanity and national development.
He noted that the provisions of the proposed bill in its entirety clearly contravene section 39 of the 1999 constitutions, which guarantee freedom of speech.
According to him, “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 the prosecution of offenders.”
On the state of the nation’s judicial system, the Senior Advocate of Nigeria regretted the alleged intimidation of judges across the country, saying concerted efforts must be in place in order to rescue the judiciary.
“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 stated.
He urged the federal government to focus attention on the rehabilitation of the dilapidating federal roads in Ekiti, saying all the roads in the state are in bad shape.
“Ekiti has four major federal roads; Ado-Ijan-Ikare, Ado-Ikere-Akure, Ado-Otun, and Ado-Aramoko-Efon, all of them are in bad shape. Some have even cut off like the one at Erio.”
On the strategic position occupied by ABUAD as an institution and the 400-bed multi-system Afe Babalola Teaching hospital, he stated that “A white man came to assess my university a while ago and that hospital.
“After that tour, the man was impressed that he asked whether the owner is a Nigerian or not and when he was told that I am a Nigerian, the man said that if that was true, then there is hope for Nigeria. We must all make sacrifices to make our country great, ” he said.