The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the leading opposition party, has condemned the bill seeking to establish a commission for the prohibition of hate speech in the country.
The senate had on Tuesday reintroduced the bill which prescribes death sentence for culprits.
Kola Ologbondiyan, spokesperson of the opposition party, described the bill “as savage, repressive, cruel with murderous intents” as it also seeks stringent punishment, including death by hanging as a penalty.
He said the bill, which is “unconstitutional and a barbaric design” is targeted at exterminating voices of dissent and opponents of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Ologbondiyan said the reintroduction of the bill shows the desperation of the federal government to suppress the will of Nigerians.
“In as much as the PDP does not condone hate speech under any guise, our party rejects the bill as unconstitutional, undemocratic and a barbarous design targeted at official extermination of voice of dissent and perceived opponents of the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led Federal Government,” he said.
“The PDP notes that the nation already has enough constitutional provisions and extant laws to safeguard a sane and healthy public expression space and cannot allow such cruel law devised to victimize and persecute the citizens, ostensibly as a regime protection measure.
“Such laws can only find space in Hitler’s Germany, Mussolini’s Italy, Idi Amin’s Uganda and not in this era or in a democratic state such as Nigeria.
“The resurfacing of the cruel bill in the Senate, after Nigerians vehemently rejected it last year, only points to the incurable desperation of the APC Federal Government to suppress and crush the will of the citizens at all cost.”
Ologbondiyan said the provisions of the bill are “deliberately hazy and nebulous with the malicious intention to victimize innocent Nigerians”.
“Such obnoxious laws are characteristics of known anti-democratic regimes, as prelude to their suspension or abolition of constitutional provisions to set the stage for totalitarianism,” he said.
“Our party holds that, if allowed to pass, the hate speech ‘prohibition’ bill, with its savage provisions, would destroy our democratic order, strip our constitutional provisions, the rights of citizens and usher in a full-blown despotism in Nigeria.
“The PDP challenges the proponents of the bill to start by condemning and setting penalties for those behind the ‘body bag’ comments as well as the ‘baboon and the dog blood’ narrative, which led to bloody unrest and the death of many innocent Nigerians.”
He charged the national assembly to protect the country by throwing away the bill and use its legislative instruments to strengthen the nation’s institutions and authorities vested with regulation of public expression in line with the provisions of the 1999 constitution (as amended).