Hate speech leads to violence. It has emotionally threatened the peaceful coexistence of people and societies. Hate speech is a provocation which can be targeted at a particular race, ethnic or religion which will at last disrupt the peaceful coexistence of such people or nation.
According to Wikipedia, “hate speech attacks a person or group on the basis of attributes such as race, religion, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, disabilities or gender.
In the law of some countries, hate speech is described as speech, gesture or conduct, writing, or display which is forbidden because it incites violence or prejudicial action against a protected group, or individual. Such action could also be described as hate speech if it disparages or intimidates a protected group, or individual on the basis of their membership of the group. The law may identify a protected group by certain characteristics”.
A victim of hate speech can seek redress in a court of law because it can cause defamation on a person. A website or any other social media platform that uses hate speech is considered as a hate site or the name of that platform with ‘hate’ attached to it.
Many Nigerians hide under the constitutional provision of freedom of speech to spew hate speeches, especially politicians. This menace has led to loss of many lives and properties. The perpetrators of such an act are mostly political leaders deeply immersed in a political feud, especially when election is around the corner, in a frantic struggle to take over the mantle of leadership from the other.
The current Gandujiyya and Kwankwasiyya political feud in Kano has led to many hate speeches among their followers on radio and television stations where everyone is calling the other names. This becomes visible in the sort of political programs that are aired by different radio stations in Kano. More so, hate speech among politicians in Kano will tell one how extremely dangerous Nigerian politics is becoming.
A shot at stemming the danger of hate speech was recently demonstrated when Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi presented a bill to the Senate on Hate Speech. The bill proposed hanging to any person found guilty of any form of hate speech that results in the death of another person upon conviction.
The bill also seeks 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.
For offences such as harassment on the grounds of ethnicity or racial contempt, a culprit shall be sentenced to “not less than a five-year jail term or a fine of not less than N10 million or both.”
Hate Speech is evil. Nigerians should avoid it as we are approaching elections, that is the time where Hate Speech use to become rampant.
As a result of the danger hate speech can, or, is causing, I have no option than to welcome the new law. It will at least address and reduce the problems of Hate Speech in Nigeria, it will unite Nigerians as a whole. We will become a model of emulation by other countries as a result of addressing this menace called ‘Hate Speech’.
I must, therefore, commend the effort of Senate Spokesperson, Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, for his wise effort and unwavering commitment in addressing these dangers of hate speech in the country through the proposal of Anti-Hate Speech bill.
However, addressing this menace needs awareness to the general public. Civil society organizations should do as much as they can to create more awareness on hate speech. I’m aware of the Center for information technology and development’s initiatives and activities on Hate Speech.
CITAD in Kano is doing a good job, i know this center as the only NGO that is addressing the problem of hate speech for many years even before the proposal of the new law.
Their workaholic Executive Director, a fearless and fine activist, Malam YZ Yau, deserved commendations from all angles. He has been one of the early brains behind this initiative of curbing Hate Speech among Nigerians.
Mr Tudunwada is Journalist and Public Affairs Analyst. He writes from Kano.