Former military president, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida, and social critic, Reverend Matthew Hassan Kukah have condemned the Hate Speech Bill warning that attempts to freeze Nigerians’ constitutionally enshrined powers for free expression will backfire.
The former military dictator described the bill as an anti-people bill that should find no place in a democratic assembly.
There are already national protests against the Hate Speech Bill.
“I am surprised that this bill has resurfaced. There is no basis for this now. We are developing; we should be allowed to develop. If we make mistakes people can be cautioned. If somebody goes off you have the right to call him to say, ‘no, we don’t want this.’
“Unless people are able to express themselves, those in government or in authority will not know what is happening in the country,” said Babangida in his Minna Uphill residence when addressing the National President of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Chief Christopher Isiguzo who paid him a visit.
The Protection from Internet Falsehoods and Manipulation Bill and the National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speeches Bill has passed the second reading in the Senate. But critics argued that the bill would deny Nigerians their fundamental rights.
The NUJ president while soliciting for the support of the former military president described the Hate Speech Bill as anti-democracy and anti-people and, therefore, must be killed.
The controversial bill has drawn strong criticisms from many highly placed Nigerians who feared that a democratic institution was promoting dictatorship.
“The government has all the laws it needs to fight any form of crime and individuals can fall back on it. This Bill is redundant, stale, superfluous and a fraud. We must fight it with all our energy. It is rotten yoghurt being marketed beyond its expiration date,” said the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto Diocese and social critic, Reverend Matthew Hassan Kukah.