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Hate Speech Bill 2018: Is Decree 4 Of 1984 Reincarnating?



On March 29, 1984, the then military government of General Muhammadu Buhari drafted the infamous Decree No. 4; titled, ‘’The Protection Against False Accusations Decree No.4, 1984. Considered by scholars as the most repressive press law ever enacted in Nigeria. Section 1 of the law provided that “Any person who publishes in any form, whether written or otherwise, any message, rumour, report or statement […] which is false in any material particular or which brings or is calculated to bring the Federal Military Government or the Government of a state or public officer to ridicule or disrepute, shall be guilty of an offense under this Decree”.

The law further stated that offending journalists and publishers will be tried by an open military tribunal, whose ruling would be final and unappealable in any court and those found guilty would be eligible for a fine not less than 10,000 naira and a jail sentence of up to two years. Tunde Thompson and Nduka Irabor of The Guardian were among the journalists who were tried under the decree. Hate Speech Offenders To Die By Hanging Senate has passed for the first reading  recently a bill seeking to criminalize hate speeches The bill   which reflects the growing concern over the spate of violence in the nation, was sponsored by the spokesman of the upper chamber, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi (APC, Niger).

The bill tagged, ‘’National Cohesion and Integration Act’’ is an Act of the National Assembly to promote national cohesion and integration by outlawing unfair discrimination, hate speeches It also seeks the establishment of an ‘Independent National Commission for Hate Speeches’, For The ‘Prohibition Of Hate Speeches, and shall enforce hate speech laws across the country, ensure the elimination of the menace and advise the Federal Government.

The bill  provides in part:(1) A person who uses, publishes, presents, produces, plays, provides, distributes and /or directs the performance of, any material, written and/or visual which is threatening, abusive or insulting or involves the use of threatening, abusive or insulting words or behavior commits an offence if such person intends thereby to stir up ethnic hatred, or having regard to all the circumstances, ethnic hatred is likely to be stirred up against any person or person from such an ethnic group in Nigeria. (2) Any person who commits an offence under this section shall be liable to life imprisonment and where the act causes any loss of life, the person shall be punished with death by hanging. (2) Conduct shall be regarded as having the effect specified in subsection (1)(a) or (b) of this Section if, having regard to all the circumstances, including in particular the perception of that other person, it should reasonably be considered as having that effect. (3) A person who subjects another to harassment on the basis of ethnicity commits an offence and shall be liable on conviction to an imprisonment for a term not less than five years, or to a fine of not less than Ten million Naira, or to both. (1) Any person who knowingly utters words to incite feelings of contempt, hatred, hostility, violence or discrimination against any person, group or community on the basis of ethnicity or race, commits an offence and shall be liable on conviction be liable to imprisonment for a term not less than five years, or to a fine of not less than Ten million Naira, or to both.





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