Chuks Okocha in Abuja
Ripples over the hate speech bill before the Senate has continued to generate reactions as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)WEDNESday condemned the controversial bill, describing it as savagery, repressive and cruel, with murderous intents, seeking stringent punishment, including death by hanging as penalty.
The party, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said: “In as much as the PDP does not condone hate speech under any guise, our party rejects the bill as unconstitutional, undemocratic and a barbarous design targeted at official extermination of voice of dissent and perceived opponents of the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led federal government.”
PDP noted that the nation already has enough constitutional provisions and extant laws to ensure a sane and healthy public expression space, saying it would not allow any cruel law devised to victimise and persecute the citizens, ostensibly as a regime protection measure.
“Such laws can only find space in Hitler’s Germany, Mussolini’s Italy, Idi Amin’s Uganda and not in this era or in a democratic state such as Nigeria.
“The resurfacing of the cruel bill in the Senate, after Nigerians vehemently rejected it last year, only points to the incurable desperation of the APC-federal government to suppress and crush the will of the citizens at all cost,” the statement said.
The party pointed out that the provisions of the bill are deliberately hazy and nebulous with the malicious intention to victimise innocent Nigerians.
Accordingly, PDP said: “Such obnoxious laws are characteristics of known anti-democratic regimes, as prelude to their suspension or abolition of constitutional provisions to set the stage for totalitarianism.
“Our party holds that, if allowed to pass, the hate speech ‘prohibition’ bill, with its provisions, would destroy our democratic order, strip our constitutional provisions, the rights of citizens and usher in a full-blown despotism in Nigeria.”
The PDP challenged the proponents of the bill to start by condemning and setting penalties for those behind the “body bag” comments as well as the “baboon and the dog blood” narrative, which led to the alleged bloody unrest and the death of many innocent Nigerians.
“Our party therefore cautions the APC and its federal government to retrace their steps and withdraw the obnoxious bill,” the statement added.
The PDP also charged the National Assembly to protect the nation by throwing away the bill and, if anything, use its legislative instruments to strengthen the institutions and authorities vested with regulation of public expression in line with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).