Last week, the DSS refused to release Sowore, the death penalty was proposed for hate speech, and an accused pastor’s supporters claimed vindication…
A bill seeking the establishment of an agency to check hate speech passed first reading at the Senate early last week. The National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speech Bill 2019, among other things seeks death by hanging for anyone found guilty of any form of hate speech that results in the death of another person.
It also sought the establishment of an ‘Independent National Commission for Hate Speeches’, which shall enforce hate speech laws across the country, ensure the elimination of the menace and advise the federal government.
The punishment is outrageous when compared with other similar crimes, according to the bill’s critics on social media. It is even more befuddling that this is a country where terrorists are offered amnesty.
The bill has been described as ill-intentioned, ill-conceived, and ill-digested and will breed dictatorship and absolutism. And a question asked; if the punishment is capital, what happens if someone is wrongly accused?
Wrongly accused is what many on social media – including Femi Fani-Kayode – say is happening to COZA pastor, Biodun Fatoyinbo. “Vindication,” they screamed, when an Abuja High Court judge threw out the rape case brought against him by Busola Dakolo, who was also fined N1 million for “wasting the court’s time.”
However, it was pointed out that Fatoyinbo’s lawyers didn’t tackle the substance of the matter but rather, that it was an event that happened (or didn’t happen) years ago.
The Nigerian justice system was under the spotlight for other reasons as the Department of State Security refused to release journalist and activist Omoyele Sowore, despite fulfilling his bail conditions a week after. His sureties need to come for him, they insist, despite no law backing this claim.
Another issue that caused concern for Nigerians centred on the Nigeria versus Benin Republic qualification match for the 2021 Nations Cup. The Super Eagles won 2-1 but the victory was overshadowed by the disgraceful visuals beamed to homes nationwide by the Nigeria Television Authority. The authority seems to be stuck in the 70’s when it started broadcasting under its present name.
As you read this, results from gubernatorial elections in Kogi and Bayelsa States should be out. It will be interesting to see who triumphs in Kogi, after the much-vilified incumbent governor, Yahaya Bello, got a few prominent personalities, including the First Lady Aisha Buhari and Kaduna governor, Nasir El-rufai, to beg the electorate for forgiveness in other to secure their support, instead of reeling out his achievements. El-rufai went as far as kneeling down.
For many on social media, this was an admittance of bad governance which really shouldn’t be rewarded with another shot.
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari is back from London after a private visit, whatever that means. So much has been written on the number of days he spends outside the country and one wonders how soon before he jets out again. A suggestion is that he passes through the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos on his next trip. Maybe, just maybe, he will get to see the terrible condition the infrastructure is in, as well as the awful attitude of the officials that are the first (and last contact) with the country. And things might just get better. But that’s probably too much to ask for.