An Assessment Of The Hate Speech Bill And It’s Role In Prohibiting Ethnic Discrimination In Nigeria
1.1 Background Of Study
The Independent National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speeches Bill, also known as the Hate Speeches Prevention Act, is a piece of legislation introduced by the Independent National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speeches. The “Hate Speech Bill” (“the Bill”) is still one of Nigeria’s most contentious bills. Despite the fact that it is still in the first reading stage, it has already drawn a great deal of criticism and agitation from a variety of groups and stakeholders who are calling for a reconsideration of the Bill’s death punishment provisions or its repeal in its entirety. Many see the Bill as an attempt by the government to restrict citizens’ freedom of expression, a fundamental human right guaranteed by Nigeria’s constitution, while others see it as a Bill that not only goes against morality but is also an outgrowth of the antics of some political leaders seeking to further their own individualized goals.
The Bill’s declared goal is to foster national cohesion and integration by prohibiting unfair discrimination, hate speech, and the establishment of an independent national commission to prevent hate speech and related problems. Ethnic discrimination, hate speech, harassment based on ethnicity, ethnic or racial contempt, and victimization discrimination are all prohibited under the bill. Under the Bill, the Federal High Court has exclusive jurisdiction over all such offenses.
The draft Bill is broken into four sections and fifty-five subsections. Part I covers the bill’s preliminary elements, such as the short title and the drafters’ interpretations of words and phrases; Part II covers the types of discrimination to which the bill applies; Part III covers the establishment of an Independent National Commission to prohibit hate speech; and Part IV covers enforcement. Below, we’ll look at a few of the Bill’s provisions that are worth noting.
The bill covers situations where someone is accused of discriminating against a Nigerian citizen on the basis of ethnicity without legitimate justification. As follows:
“A person discriminates against another person if, without lawful justification, he treats or would treat another Nigerian citizen less favorably than he treats or would treat other people from his ethnic or another ethnic group, and/or if, on the basis of ethnicity, he puts another person at a disadvantage when compared to people of other ethnic nationalities in Niger.”
It also states that someone can be accused of discrimination if”… he applies to that person a provision, criterion, or practice that he applies or would apply equally to people of other races, ethnicities, or national origins.”
The implication of this provision is that if a person is found to be discriminating against another Nigerian citizen by placing him in a disadvantageous position in comparison to how he treats others from his own ethnic group, or if he applies a criterion to such person that he does not apply equally to people of a different race or ethnic origin, he will be found liar. This clause appears to be an attempt by the government to solve Nigeria’s long-standing problems with tribalism and ethnic favoritism.
1.2 Statement Of Problem
It is a truism that every citizen’s right to free speech should not be abused, and the government may impose restrictions on those rights in order to protect other citizens’ rights or public trust in the government and its systems. However, the government’s capacity to enact laws or regulations impacting citizens’ fundamental rights should not be abused. Because the country has a democratic government, laws that abridge citizens’ fundamental rights must be properly consulted with the people or their representatives before being introduced into the legislative bodies. The introduction of a capital sentence for hate speech, such as the “death by hanging” penalty, is excessively harsh and draconian. Furthermore, the bill’s wording is excessively broad, and it contains clauses that purport to generalize every offensive or abusive term directed at a certain ethnic group as hate speech. Because not all forms of offensive communication can be classified as hate speech, the border between hate speech and offensive speech is blurry. The definition of hate speech in the Bill should have been limited to the most extreme cases, such as statements made with the goal of igniting tribal warfare and dividing the country, utterances that clearly signal immediate danger or injury to specific people, and so on. If the bill is passed in its current form, it might mean that even critical ethnic jokes could be regarded as hate speech by ethnic groups aggrieved by the joke’s aim. It would certainly be difficult for the government to establish procedures for enforcing the Bill’s provisions without provoking civil disturbances among Nigeria’s ethnic groupings.
1.3 Objective Of Study
The following are primary objectives of this study:
- Examine the nature of hate speech
- To examine the relationship between hate speech and ethnic discrimination
- To assess the role of hate speech bill in prohibiting ethnic discrimination in Nigeria
1.4 Research question
This research question guides this study:
- What is the the nature of hate speech?
- What is the relationship between hate speech and ethnic discrimination?
- What is the role of the hate speech bill in prohibiting ethnic discrimination in Nigeria?
1.5 Significance Of Study
Hate speech in itself is wrong. It threatens the country’s unity, peace, and the efforts of the government in nation building, and it similarly widens the social gap between Nigerians. However, its regulation should be traded with caution, the extremely punitive capital punishments proposed in the Bill should be reviewed and the wording of the Bill should be redrafted to avoid falling into a slippery slope with precarious consequences. Legislators should engage the services of experienced and knowledgeable draftsmen or lawyers in drafting such sensitive laws, because, at the bottom of it all, the aim is to build a unified and peaceful Nigeria.
This study will further add to the existing literature on this study domain and as well serve as a reference material for scholars, researchers, and students who may want to carry out further research on this topic or related area in the future.
1.6 Scope Of Study
This study focuses on examining the nature of hate speech. This study will also examine the relationship between hate speechand ethnic discrimination. This study will further look into the role of the hate speech bill in prohibiting ethnic discrimination in Nigeria. Psychology students of Kaduna State University will serve as enrolled participant for this study.
1.6 Limitation Of Study
Finance, inadequate materials and time constraint were the challenges the researchers encountered during the course of the study.
1.8 Definition Of Terms
Hate speech involves epithets and slurs, statements that promote malicious stereotypes, and speech intended to incite hatred or violence against a group. Hate speech can also include nonverbal depictions and symbols.
This can occur because someone is of an ethnicity defined as outside that race, or ethnic discrimination (or ethnic hatred, ethnic conflict, and ethnic violence) can occur between groups who consider each other to be the same race.
Review Of Literature
Our focus in this chapter is to critically examine relevant literature that would assist in explaining the research problem and furthermore recognize the efforts of scholars who had previously contributed immensely to similar research. The chapter intends to deepen the understanding of the study and close the perceived gaps.
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