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Hate Speech Bill Suffers Defeat as ECOWAS Criminalizes Bill

A letter dated November 28, 2019, delivered by Mackay Chambers and Associates, has drawn the attention of the Senate to the judgement of the Community Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) forbidding Nigerian government from criminalizing free speech in whatever guise,

“We hereby inform you that, the exercise in pursuing this Hate Speeches Establishment Bill 2019 is one in futility and therefore, the taxpayers’ money should not be plunged into it, in view, of the Judgment of the ECOWAS Court which has been termed by the global community as a landmark Judgment, a trailblazer for the global freedom of expression.

“The Hate Speeches Establishment Bill 2019 is contrary to Section 22 and 39 of the 1999 Nigeria Constitution as amended which guarantees freedom of expression. It needs no saying that, any Law or Act that is or are contrary to the grand norm of the Constitution is null and void.

“The National Assembly under the leadership of our Distinguished Senator, Ahmed Lawan, having chosen this ignoble road of willfully subjecting and making our Nigeria a laughing stock in the comity of nations beats our imaginations.

“There is the availability of sufficient Laws on offensive spoken words and actions with great and effectual remedies in our laws. It’s wrongful to attempt criminalizing freedom of expression for the traumatized citizens of
Nigeria.

“It is absurd for Nigeria in the comity of nations on earth to be heard singing these ignoble songs rather than creating the conducive environment for freedom of Speech and enterprises for her rapidly growing populations.

“In View of this Judgment, the National Assembly of Nigeria is, therefore, acting contrary to the core terms of the Judgment in terms of the citizens’ rights; it protects, to embark on the facilitation of the Hate Speeches Establishment Bill 2019.

“This Judgment clearly forbids the Federal Republic of Nigeria sued in this case as the Defendant from further violating Nigerians citizens’ rights to freedom of speech being a matter that was initiated within the public interest advocacy mechanism.

“It would not be seen that Nigeria as an entity would have her legislature act in defiance of her international obligations freely entered into and in the face of a valid subsisting Court Judgement.

“Freedom of speech being an entrenched Fundamental Human Rights provided for in the Nigerian Constitution and this Right is fully preserved by the Judgment of the Regional Court afore said. It is completely out of the way for the Nigeria legislature to attempt to facilitate the enactment of any law that infringes the rights protected by the said Judgment of the Regional Court.”

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