- Says FG Is Guilty of Hate Speech
By Shola Fadeyi
Dr Olunifesi Suraj
A Senior Lecturer at the Department of Mass Communications, University of Lagos, Dr Olunifesi Suraj, has described the introduction, into the political space, of the Hate Speech and Fake News Bills, as a grand attempt by the Federal Government to gag the virile Nigerian Press.
Dr Suraj made this observation in his contributions, as a Lead Panelist, at a discussant Forum on the ‘’Hate Speech and Fake News Bills- Implications for the Media Industry and the society at large’’ organised by the African Foundation for Young Media Professionals and African Centre for Media and Intercultural Dialogue at Sweet Sensation Hall, Alagomeji , Lagos , Tuesday.
The don condemned the punishment of death by hanging, which is an aspect of the Bills, adding that the Bills were irrelevant to the society at large, while there was a need for the Civil Society Group to embark on education of the citizenry , to combat the propaganda.
He said, ‘’ The best way to approach the Hate Speech Fake News Propaganda is through education. I totally condemn the death punishment attached to the Bills, which I consider as an attempt to gag the Press.
‘’People need to know what the Bills is all about, and the intention of those who are behind it, and how we can rise up to it.We have come to unravel the mystery behind this Bills, and we have seen that it is a waste of time and a waste of resources. It is like re-inventing the wheel, it is redundant and government itself is a victim of this hate speech’’, Dr Suraj disclosed.
Another panelist at the forum, Mr Martins Oloja , Editorial Board Member of the Guardian Newspapers, said that Nigeria operates a democratic system of government , while it is only an autocratic and theocratic state , of which Nigeria is none ,that criminalizes free speech.
Oloja disclosed that he was concerned about the speed ,with which the Senate is pushing the Bills, imploring the stakeholders not to keep quiet on it.
Mr Tunde Abatan, Editor,New Dawn Online Newspaper, who is also one of the panelists said, without free speech ,all speeches become government speech, while there is no such thing as government regulated free speech, urging journalists to be equipped with the knowledge and skills to identify and counteract hate speech.
Dr Olubunmi Ogidan, Station Manager, University of Lagos(UNILAG) Radio, pointed out that what Nigeria needed now is not that kind of Bills, saying if government will take time to do what is right , there would be less agitations in the country.
The Lead Panelists, Dr Suraj is also the National Coordinator (Nigerian Chapter), UNESCO University Network on Media and Information Literacy, and one of the foremost Media & Information Literacy (MIL) Thought Leaders with special interest in Internet Governance, Media development & Freedom of Expression, Cyber Safety and Knowledge Management. Dr. Olunifesi
He is a consultant to many multinational and international organizations and holds a Master and Doctorate (PhD) Degrees in Information Science and a Postgraduate Diploma Degree in Mass Communication with several publications to his credit.