Hate Speech Fine: Human Rights Group Sues FG

NEWSMAN, Abuja – Federal Government has been dragged to court by a group ‘Expression Now Human Rights Initiative’ over the provisions and enforcement of hate speech in the Nigerian Broadcasting Code (NBC) 6th Edition and its amendments.

The non-governmental organization (NGO) filed the suit marked ECW/CCJ/APP/ through Lagos lawyer, Solomon Okedara.

Okedara in the application argued that “while the focus of many Nigerians is on N5million fine which the NBC Code (6th Edition) imposes in its amendments; the code even imposes other far-reaching penalties,” This Day reported.

“For example Article 15.2.1 of the Code provides for sanctions such as Immediate order of suspension of broadcast services, suspension of license and immediate shut down/seal up of transmitter; and revocation of license, seizure and forfeiture of transmitting equipment,” Okedara said.

He contended that while the N5million fine is “disproportionate and unjustifiable, penalties like ‘suspension of broadcast services, suspension of license, shut down/seal up of transmitter’ are excessive and disproportionate and can have far more damaging effect on free speech.”

Okedara further argued that the definition of ‘Hate Speech’ as given in the Code is ‘vague, ambiguous and overbroad’ adding that the Code criminalises “offensive reference” and wondered if the drafters of the code realised that making “offensive reference” is integral to free speech and important to open, diverse and heterogeneous society.

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