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Youths, Activists Protest against Hate Speech, anti-social media bills in Ondo

Following the move to regulate the social media space in the country, some activists in Ondo State stormed the state House of Assembly on Wednesday as they vent their anger against the bills, particularly the “Hate Speech Bill.”


While chanting solidarity songs, the activists armed with placards of various inscriptions read, “Social Media Bill Is Dead, You Cannot Silence Our Voices”; “Say No To Social Bill”; You Cannot Gag Us, Our Freedom Of Speech Is Sacrosanct”; “Abduction And Illegal Detention Is Hatred”; In Buhari’s Nigeria, Rule Of Law Is Now In The Waste Bin.”



They emphasized that the bills if not rejected will turn Nigeria into totalitarianism under President Muhammadu Buhari led administration.


It will be recalled that the Senate Deputy Chief Whip, Sabi Abdullahi had introduced the hate speech bill on the floor of the Senate on November 12 for the establishment of the National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speech.


According to the bill, anybody who commits an offence deemed as hate speech, shall be liable to life imprisonment and where the act causes any loss of life, the person shall also be punished with death by hanging.


According to Folasade Bamigboye, one of the demonstrators said both the hate and social media bills that are currently being debated at the Senate were anti-people and an infringement on the rights of Nigerians to freedom of speech.


“We are here as concern Nigerians to say no to the hate speech bill and social media bill which is before the senate because if the bill is passed into law, it would be a total infringement on our right to talk.


“Every citizen has the freedom of speech and taking that away is like a slap on our faces as Nigerians, so when our freedom to speak is taking away then we have been made to be less human.


“There are existing laws taking care of offenders as it relates to all these hate speeches. So, People should be free to air their views,” she said.


Also, Oluwagbenga Ajongbolo, a member of the #TakeItBackMovement, said the government was afraid of the power of social media to hold them accountable hence the reason for the clampdown on the digital space.


 
“It is unfortunate that we have less than five hundred persons trying to shut us out of the social media and trying to make life unbearable for us because we are demanding good governance and accountability in government.


“We know that the plan for this hate speech and social media bills was orchestrated to attack many of us who are using social media to put the government on their toes by asking questions where they have failed.


“The same government that is planning to shut us down with the hate speech bill has refused to release the publisher of the Sahara Reporters, Omoyele Sowore, and Olawale Bakare just because they called for a peaceful protest, now they want to have their way with the hate speech bill.


 
“And my annoyance is that those in government today were once the purveyors of fake news and hate speech. You could remember how they threatened Nigerians that they would form a parallel government if they did not win elections in 2015 but we won’t allow them to overpower our voices.”


While condemning the lawmakers supporting the two bills, Oluwaseun Ogunmola, an Ondo-based social advocate explained that social media has remained the only viable opposition where the people can easily express their minds over any government malfeasances.


According to him, Nigerians would resist every attempt to silence the dissenting voices arguing the bills was another means to gag the mainstream media from reporting and exposing government corruption.


 
“Those sponsoring these bills already knew that the social media is now the only viable opposition where the masses can vent their grievances and call those in position of powers to question if they fail to perform.


“So, their plan is to silence those of us who had always give them that sleepless night on the social media because they knew they did not get to such position on the people’s will and instead of than to perform well, and infrastructure the keep wasting our funds on parties and frivolities.


“And just like we are saying that the bill is dead on arrival, we are calling on the legislators to withdrawal the bills as it is a means to clamp down,” he said.


 
Other activists who joined the protest to raise their voices against the bills at the Senate House included Gbenga Adene, Abiodun Oyekan, and Omoduni Olamide as they also called for the release of Messrs Omoyele Sowore, Olawale Bakare and Agba Jalingo from custody.  (Gathered from: DailyPosts)
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