Nothing Like “Hate Speech” Under Nigerian Law
First, I do not agree on the concept of hate speeches. The Constitution in section 39 has granted an unqualified freedom of expression to every citizen. If any speech made has violated anybody’s legal rights at all, there is the extant common law remedy of libel actions for damages in civil cases and criminal libel in criminal cases.
Recently, it has now become common place for government and government officials to seek to gag the people by seeking all manner of restraint of the freedom of speech. To that extent, I do not agree with the Acting President on the concept of hate speeches as terrorism. Every citizen should be allowed the freedom of expression under the law.
Secondly, I believe that the National Assembly lacks the legal competence in law to pass into law any bill seeking to gag citizens. Such a law, if ever passed, will run counter to section 1 of the 1999 Constitution which has declared the constitution to be the supreme law. Any law capable of hindering the freedom of expression granted under section 39 of the 1999 Constitution and the African Charter will be illegal and unconstitutional. To that extent, the National Assembly has no power to make any law that will violate the constitution. It is ultra vires.
It is in the light of the above that I find it difficult to agree with this current government declaration that there is need for a new law to regulate what people term as hate speeches. This is just an attempt by the ruling Apc government to gag citizens and if such law is ever passed, we shall challenge it in court.
Ebun-olu Adegboruwa, Esq.