An Evaluation Of The Hate Speech Bill And Its Breach On Democratic Doctrines In Nigeria (A Review Of Public Perception)

Project and Seminar Material for Political Science

An Evaluation Of The Hate Speech Bill And Its Breach On Democratic Doctrines In Nigeria (A Review Of Public Perception)


Abstract


This study was carried out to evaluate the hate speech bill and its breach on democratic doctrines in Nigeria (a review of public perception) with special reference to residents in Edo State. Specifically, the study aimed to ascertain the nature of hate speech, examine the factors that led to establishment of hate speech bill, investigate if the hate speech bill is an infringement to the freedom of expression and determine if the hate speech is bridge on democratic doctrine in Nigeria. The study employed the survey descriptive research design. A total of 259 responses were validated from the survey. From the responses obtained and analyzed, the findings revealed that hate speech bill is an infringement to the freedom of expression. The study also revealed that hate speech bill is a bridge on democratic doctrine of Nigeria. The study thereby recommend that the government should look for other legitimate means to punish those who indulge in the use of foul language against others. Also, the laws of defamation and sedition should be reviewed to take care of some of the provisions of the Hate speech Bill.


Table of Content


  • Title Page
  • Certification
  • Dedication
  • Acknowledgement
  • Table of Content
  • List of Tables
  • Abstract

Chapter One:

Introduction

  • 1.1 Background of the Study
  • 1.2 Statement of the Problem
  • 1.3 Objective of the Study
  • 1.4 Research Questions
  • 1.5 Research Hypothesis
  • 1.6 Significance of the Study
  • 1.7 Scope of the Study
  • 1.8 Limitation of the Study
  • 1.9 Definition of Terms
  • 1.10 Organisations of the Study

Chapter Two:

Review of Literature

  • 2.1 Conceptual Framework
  • 2.2 Theoretical Framework
  • 2.3 Empirical Review

Chapter Three:

Research Methodology

  • 3.1 Research Design
  • 3.2 Population of the Study
  • 3.3 Sample Size Determination
  • 3.4 Sample Size Selection Technique and Procedure
  • 3.5 Research Instrument and Administration
  • 3.6 Method of Data Collection
  • 3.7 Method of Data Analysis
  • 3.8 Validity of the Study
  • 3.9 Reliability of the Study
  • 3.10 Ethical Consideration

Chapter Four:

Data Presentation and Analysis

  • 4.1 Data Presentation
  • 4.2 Analysis of Data
  • 4.3 Answering Research Questions
  • 4.4 Test of Hypotheses

Chapter Five:

Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation

  • 5.1 Summary
  • 5.2 Conclusion
  • 5.3 Recommendation
  • REFERENCES
  • APPENDIX
  • QUESTIONNAIRE

Chapter One


Introduction

1.1 Background of the Study

Democracy is adjudged as the most popular system of government in the world. It is popularly seen as the government of the people, by the people, and for the people. Democracy as an ideology is the philosophy of governance which sets a high premium on the basic freedoms or fundamental human rights of citizens, the rule of law, the right to property, the free flow of information and the right of choice between alternative political positions. Simply put, democracy is a system of politics in which sovereignty is vested in the people rather than in a small clique or an oligarchy, where the rule of law, majority rule, and constitutionalism are basic guiding principles of governance.
Nigeria joined the league of democratic nations in 1999. One of the cardinal points of a true democracy is freedom. The ability to be free is most expressed in one‘s capacity to express himself freely without any physical or psychological threats (by the government or otherwise).

Today we have social media which permits individuals or groups to sit in the comfort of their bedrooms or offices and, with a click of the mouse or a tap on the screen, express themselves freely to millions of other users who are not restricted by the physically defined borders and boundaries of countries or regions. However, freedom of expression and the press mean the liberty to say what one wishes to say, subject to the consequences under the law, as the case may be, which laws must be fair and reasonably justifiable in a constitutional democracy. Thus, at anytime when this freedom of speech is forbidden, it infringes on the fundamental human right of freedom of expression and that of the press. Recently, Nigerians were faced with the news of a very controversial bill being considered by the Senate. The proposed law, publicly known as the Hate Speech Bill, is sponsored by Senator AliyuSabiAbdullahi, chairman of the Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs. The Hate Speech Bill, according to its sponsor in the Senate, seeks to eliminate hate speech and discourage harassment on the grounds of ethnicity, religion, or race, among others. It prescribes stiff penalties for offences such as ethnic hatred.. Any 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, commits an offence, it states (Punch, 2018). If this is not scary enough, the penalties are: a jail sentence of not less than five years or a fine of not less than N10 million or both for these offenses. Capping it all is the prescription of the death penalty, where any form of hate speech results in the death of another person (Punch, 2018). Hate speeches are utterances, typed documents, advertorials, musicals, or any form of literature that is used to attack an individual or a group – religious, social, political, business, gender, or race. In some countries, hate speech can fall under the law of sedition, incitement to violence, verbal abuse and the likes. While some people claim that the intention of classifying the hate speech bill as a criminal act infringes on the rights of citizens to freedom of expression as guaranteed in the Constitution, others hold the view that it is a breach of democratic doctrine.


1.2 Statement of the Problem

The freedom of the general public, anyone and everyone, including the press and civil society organizations, to receive and to impart ideas and information by speech, printed word, and other media is guaranteed by the Nigerian Constitution both in sections 22 and 39 of the Constitution. Section 39 of the 1999 Constitution provides as follows: Every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression, including freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference.

However, since the introduction of the Hate Speech Bill recently, the debate about what constitutes hate speech, particularly on social media, has become a new national discussion. Critical sections of society, the mass media, civil society, pressure groups, academia, writers and creative/performing artists that may bear the main brunt of the obnoxious law have been curiously and dangerously indifferent, as only a few voices have raised the alarm. Many of them are of the opinion that the hate speech bill is a breach of true democratic principles, hence it is uncalled for. Therefore, it is upon the premise that this study seeks to evaluate the hate speech bill as a breach of democratic principles in Nigeria as obtained from the public perspective.


1.3 Objective of the Study

The main focus of this study is to present an evaluation of the hate speech bill and its breach on democratic doctrines in Nigeria. Specifically the study seek to

  1. Ascertain the nature of hate speech.
  2. Examine the factors that led to establishment of hate speech bill.
  3. Investigate if the hate speech bill is an infringement to the freedom of expression.
  4. Determine if the hate speech is bridge on democratic doctrine in Nigeria

1.4 Research Question

  1. What is the nature of hate speech?
  2. What are the factors that led to establishment of hate speech bill?.
  3. Is the hate speech bill is an infringement to the freedom of expression?
  4. Does the hate speech breach on democratic doctrine in Nigeria?

1.5 Research Hypthesis

  • HO1: The hate speech bill is not an infringement to the freedom of expression.
  • HI1: The hate speech bill is an infringement to the freedom of expression.
  • HO2: The hate speech bill is not a bridge on democratic doctrine of Nigeria
  • HO2: The hate speech bill is a bridge on democratic doctrine of Nigeria.

1.6 Significance of the Study

Findings from the study will be significantly relevant to the government, popular social media CEO’s, the general public and for academic purposes. Social media owners hope the study will enlighten them on the need to establish a mechanism for verification of information shared by users as well as review the hate bill in such a way that it does not infringe on the freedom of speech of citizens and make a mockery of Nigerian democracy. More so for the government, the study will enable them to initiate an agreement with social media owners used by their citizens and come up with regulatory and filtering functions in order to curb misinformation shared by those platforms.

Finally, the study will contribute empirically to the body of knowledge and serve as a reference material for both students and scholars who wish to conduct further studies in related fields.


1.7 Scope Of The Study

The scope of this study borders on the evaluation of the hate speech bill and its bridge on democratic doctrines in Nigeria. It will ascertain the nature nature of hate speech and what factors led to the initiation of hate speech bill. It will ascertain if the initiation of the hate speech bill is a breach on the democratic doctrine of Nigeria even as limits the freedom of speech of Citizens. The study is however delimited to Facebook Users in Edo State.


1.8 Limitation of the Study

This research project, like all human endeavors, had some challenges that threatened to derail the study’s completion. One of the reasons is that the time allotted for this work was so limited that the researcher did not have enough time to complete the task thoroughly. During data collection, the researcher also had to put forth extra effort to understand the respondents’ interview schedules, several of whom fell into the incomprehensible age group. Also, there were finance and transportation constraints to deal with. Insufficient funds tend to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing the relevant materials, literature, or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire, interview).


1.9 Definition of Terms

Hate Speech:

Public speech that expresses hate or encourages violence towards a person or group based on something such as race, religion, sex, or sexual orientation.

Hate Speech Bill:

Hate speech bill is a proposed legislation under consideration by a legislature in order to regulate public speech that expresses hate or encourages violence towards a person or group based on something such as race, religion, sex, or sexual orientation shared on media platforms.

Democratic Doctrine:

Democratic principles are reflected in all eligible citizens being equal before the law and having equal access to legislative processes. Such as Legal equality, political freedom and rule of law are often identified as foundational characteristics for a well-functioning democracy.

Human Right:

Human rights are moral principles or norms for certain standards of human behaviour and are regularly protected in municipal and international law.


1.10 Organization of the Study

This research work is organized in five chapters, for easy understanding, as follows.

  • Chapter one is concern with the introduction, which consist of the (overview, of the study), historical background, statement of problem, objectives of the study, research hypotheses, significance of the study, scope and limitation of the study, definition of terms and historical background of the study.
  • Chapter two highlights the theoretical framework on which the study is based, thus the review of related literature.
  • Chapter three deals on the research design and methodology adopted in the study.
  • Chapter four concentrate on the data collection and analysis and presentation of finding.
  • Chapter five gives summary, conclusion, and recommendations made of the study.

Chapter Five


Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation

5.1 Summary

In this study, our focus was on the hate speech bill and its breach on democratic doctrines in Nigeria (a review of public perception) using Facebook Users in Edo State as a case study. The study specifically was aimed at highlighting the nature of hate speech, examine the factors that led to establishment of hate speech bill, investigate if the hate speech bill is an infringement to the freedom of expression and determine if the hate speech is bridge on democratic doctrine in Nigeria. A total of 259 responses were validated from the enrolled participants where all respondent are drawn from resident in Benin city.


5.2 Conclusion

Based on the finding of this study, the following conclusions were made:

  1. The hate speech bill is an infringement to the freedom of expression.
  2. The hate speech bill is a bridge on democratic doctrine of Nigeria.

5.3 Recommendation

Based on the responses obtained, the researcher proffers the following recommendations:

  1. The National Assembly should shelve the idea of passing the Hate Speech Bill in the interest of Nigerians
  2. The government should look for other legitimate means to punish those who indulge in the use of foul language against others.
  3. The laws of defamation and sedition should be reviewed to take care of some of the provisions of the Hate speech Bill.
  4. The need to make legislation on hate speech should be anchored on honesty, transparency and trust, devoid of political considerations.
  5. There is the need for government and the civil society to partner towards enlightening the citizens on their fundamental rights and their limits within the ambit of the law.
  6. The law courts have a duty to ensure that the fundamental rights of all citizens are upheld and protected especially as it relates to hate speech conflicts.
  7. The extant laws that appear to address hate speech in all its ramifications should be reviewed with the view to adequately capture changing realities in terms of evidence and sentence in Nigeria.
  8. The implementation gaps associated with laws that address issues of hate speech and rights violation should be strengthened.

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