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Hate, social media bills an attempt to stifle expression, democracy, NANS alleges

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The National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) has described the Social Media and Hate Speech bills as an attempt to “maim Nigerians’ freedom of expression and the country’s democracy.”

The pieces of legislation, according to the body, are “ways for the Nigerian government to clampdown on critics.”

Addressing a press conference yesterday in Abeokuta, NANS’ National Public Relations Officer, Azeez Adeyemi alleged: “There is no doubt that the Nigerian government is all out to clampdown on critics of their anti-human policies and acts. However, any government going this way is gradually moving toward anarchy, a point Nigerian students will resist with every strength we have.”

He recalled that the bill, which passed second reading last week, “would give law enforcement agencies the power to shut down access to the internet and social media without recourse to the National Assembly or a court.”

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The students’ body said the proposed Prohibition of Hate Speech Bill “is a tactical move to gag the ordinary man, youths and journalists and pave way for their (government) impunity.”

NANS insisted that the moves should not be allowed to see the light of day, alleging: “If these bills are allowed to thrive, the government will be vested with the sole power to determine what an hate speech is, and as a result, witch hunt opponents and even journalists.”

Adeyemi added: “We have other students in other parts of the world but they will never be caged the way Nigerian government is trying to muzzle us as if they want the world to end in this century.”

He also alleged the “witch hunting” of students by lawmakers, citing the case of a “second year student, Yahuza Tijani of the Department of Science and Technology Education, Bayero University, who is allegedly in police custody since September 2019 for speaking his mind on his Facebook wall against a member of the State Assembly.”


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