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AGF Malami, CSOs disagree on Hate Speech, Social Media Bills

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The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami and some Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) on Monday disagreed on the desirability or otherwise of the Hate Speech and Social Media Bills pending before the Senate.

While Malami threw his weight behind the introduction and passage of the Hate Speech and Social Media Bills, the CSOs including Amnesty International, Connected Development (CODE), Professor Chidi Odinkalu and others called for the immediate withdrawal of the Bills from the parliament by their sponsors.

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Senate President Ahmad Lawan said that the National Assembly is open to suggestions from Nigerians on how to curb the destructive tendencies of Hate Speech, fake news and the negative manipulation of the social media.

Malami in his speech during the opening session of the Forum noted that the media played a very prominent role and in the attainment of independence and the advancement of democracy and good governance in the country, “through the fight against corruption and upholding the rule of law in line with section 22 of the 1999 Constitution.”

He, however, insisted that there must be adequate legal mechanisms to curb the excesses of those he described as “purveyors of fake news.”

Malami who was represented by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Dr. Umar Gwandu, said: “Nigeria operates a constitutional democracy that guarantees freedom of expression thereby providing conducive atmosphere and veritable platforms that enables Nigerians their inalienable fundamental rights to unhindered ventilation of opinions.

” No doubt, recent developments where Nigerians freely articulate varied viewpoints on numerous national issues are clear testimonies to the commitment of the Federal Government with the doctrine of freedom of expression.

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“The legal framework for the Nigerian media practice emanated from various sectors including international conventions, charters and the constitution of Nigeria.

“With the absence of gatekeeping processes of the conventional media, individuals with neither the skills of information verification, nor the use of what the reality is, take it upon themselves to be the purveyors of fake news, hatred and animosity.

“Some turn the platforms into avenues for committing heinous internet fraud and cybercrime.

“The rate at which the proliferation of acrimony and verifying statements dominate the social media space is alarming.

“The consequence of which will be dangerous, no society will fold its arm and allow such ominous crime to go unchecked.

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