The Resource Centre for Human Rights and Civic Education, while revealing its view on the controversial social media and hate speech bill, noted that it will not add any value to the nation.
The civic group described the proposed bill as an assault on the constitutionally-guaranteed rights of citizens to free speech.
The Executive Director, CHRICED, Dr Ibrahim Zikirullahi, while speaking at a news conference noted that the Nigerian Cybercrime Act, 2015, had sufficient provisions to address the gaps in the law relating to the misuse of the social media.
He stated, “While we do not in any way endorse the use of social media to promote hate speech, fake news and disinformation, it is an over-reach for political actors to use legislative power to deny the rights of citizens to free expression.”
Zikirullahi stated that elite are acting on the basis that they are untouchable because they are in power.
He further stated that this gives them the chance to use legal means to haul others into jail.
“The champions of these legislations do not seem to realize that if they do not tread with caution, they could someday become victims of the very legislations they are attempting to enact to harass other citizens,” he said.
He advised the legislators to focus their time on more productive ventures, including making laws to tackle the dilapidated health infrastructure, collapsed education system, poverty, crimes, unemployment, corruption and terrorism in the country.
The group condemned violence experienced during the elections in Kogi and Bayelsa States, he charged security operatives to bring to justice the killers of the Peoples Democratic Party woman leader in Kogi.
It said, “In the face of the lackadaisical attitude of the ruling party to ensure such electoral criminals are held to account, citizens and civic groups must now consider exploring offshore alternatives.”
“It is high time the International Criminal Court to which Nigeria is a signatory play a role in ensuring democratic accountability in the face of impunity in Nigeria.”