Withdraw Hate Speech Bill Now, Olanipekun Tells N’Assembly

Wole Olanipekun
  • .Says it is a misplaced priority

Victor Ogunje in Ado Ekiti

A lawyer, Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), has advised the National Assembly to immediately withdraw the Hate Speech Bill that has generated bad blood among Nigerians, declaring it as contradicting 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 will create bad blood and disunity among Nigerians if passed and assented to by the president.

On the abysmal level of education in Nigeria, Olanipekun called for more funding of education through governments, corporate bodies and philanthropists for children of the poor to have access to education.

Olanipekun made the scathing remarks against the much touted bill on Saturday in Ikere Ekiti, Ekiti State, during his annual scholarship awards for over 100 indigent but brilliant Nigerian students through the Wole Olanipekun Foundation.

The former president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) enjoined the National Assembly to focus attention on sponsoring bills that would cushion the effects of insecurity, poor education, hardship and bad roads that plague the nation, and shun retrogressive bills such as the Hate Speech.

“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 National Assembly. 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 nation.

“Let me advise the National Assembly 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 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 beings, we all have emotions, everyman 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 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 outright. We will forgive them if they show that they erred”, he stated.
He charged the beneficiaries of the scholarship scheme to imbibe the culture of role modelling by patterning their lives after a successful person in the society and work towards surpassing him to make their future great.

In his lecture entitled: ‘Philanthropist Vision in Relation to Youth Education’, a Professor of Education, G . O. Oyinloye, said philanthropism is imperative in Nigeria in view of the high level of poverty, adding that the UNESCO research on education revealed that over 13 million children dropped our of school for lack of funds in Nigeria.

Appealing to the recipients to see education as a potential weapon to acquire knowledge, skills and values that can transform the lives of the populace, Oyinloye said: “Education well planned for and financed will equip the recipients with knowledge with which changes and transformation will be brought to the society. In a country where poverty is high and government can’t guarantee free education, philanthropists must come to the aid of the poor.”

Governor Kayode Fayemi, represented by the Education Commissioner, Mr. Foluso Daramola, said part of the ways to make education accessible by the current administration in the state was by abrogating fees in primary and secondary cadres to attract out-of-schools children.

Fayemi said his government would be paying a sum of N240 million for over 13,000 students that will write WAEC examinations in 2020, being part of the efforts to ensure that all impediments to education are removed.