Olanipekun knocks Senate, calls for withdrawal of Hate Speech Bill
A former President of the Nigeria Bar Association, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), has knocked the senate for the introduction of the Hate Speech Bill, saying it contradicts the principles of fundamental human rights and tantamount to pursuing a policy that is self-serving.
Olanipekun, who expressed disappointment that such bill could emanate from the National Assembly, warned that the Hate Speech Bill would create bad blood and disunity among Nigerians if passed and assented to by the president.
He stated this on Saturday in his country home in Ikere-Ekiti during his annual scholarship awards for over 100 indigent students in the state.
According to him, the National Assembly should focus attention on sponsoring Bills that would cushion the effects of insecurity, poor education, hardship and bad roads that are affecting the nation and shun retrogressive Bills such as the Hate Speech.
He said: “I am happy to note that it is not an Executive Bill. You know you can have an Executive Bill, members’ Bill or Private Bill. This Bill is being initiated from or by the NASS. I am happy because the bill didn’t originate from the presidency. I think we are mixing a lot of things up. People commenting that Buhari wants to gag the press; I do not agree with them because the bill did not come from the Presidency. But it is unfortunate that it is coming from the NASS.
“Let me advise the NASS to be more productive, let us stop chasing vanity, and things that are counter-productive. To me as a lawyer, as an elder, this Bill will be counter-productive. The Bill will bring disunity even among family members. We should not bring disunity. Wife and husband disagree, and if such happens, will you report your spouse for hate speech?
“My little knowledge of the law will not open my eyes to the definition of Hate Speech. In the law of defamation, we have libel, and slander and vulgar abuse. And they would tell you vulgar abuse is not actionable, we are all human being, we all have emotions, every man has his own lull moment.
“Let us caution ourselves in this country, and my fear is that those who make the law might become victims of such a law. They should respect the sanctity of human life. Nigeria is not in a stone age. We have laws that have taken care of all offences in Nigeria. No review, no amendment will make it acceptable, but they should withdraw it outrightly. We will forgive them if they show that they erred,” he stated.