The International Press Centre (IPC),based in Lagos, Nigeria, has called on the Senate to drop the proposed hate speech bill that seeks to recommend death sentence for purveyors of hate speech.
The bill, which is being sponsored by Senate Spokesperson, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, proposes that anyone found guilty of any form of hate speech could face death by hanging upon conviction.
The Director of IPC, Mr. Lanre Arogundade, in a statement on Friday, said what the country needs today is engagement by multiple stakeholders to determine what actually constitutes hate speech and agree on effective measures for dealing with such.
“A draconian law that hallmarks dictatorship cannot be the solution to hate speech in a democratic society,” Arogundade stressed.
The IPC Director also said that should such a bill become a law, it would certainly pose a major threat to freedom of expression, freedom of the press and safety of journalists.
“Much as we do not welcome hate speech, we do not also welcome a law that would gag citizens and deny the public the right to know,” he added.
This is as the IPC Director also called for the release of Tony Ezimakor, the Daily Independent newspaper’s Abuja Bureau Chief, who was arrested and detained by the Department of State Services headquarters in Abuja on February 28 after honouring an invitation from the security agency.
Arogundade said in the alternative, the DSS should immediately charge Ezimakor to court if the agency is convinced that he has committed any offence known to the law of the country.