Chief Afe Babalola (SAN), on Wednesday, described the hate speech bill as a slide to dictatorship and that there was no need for extra laws in Nigeria.
Babalola, founder of Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti (ABUAD), said it was needless and unwarranted for anyone to contemplate another law to deal with false publications when there were laws already promulgated to take care of such situation.
The bill, sponsored by the Deputy Chief Whip, Aliyu Abdullahi, has passed the first reading at the Senate, prescribing the death penalty for anyone found guilty of spreading a falsehood that led to the death of another person.
Babalola spoke at ABUAD in Ado Ekiti on Wednesday, when the leadership of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Ekiti chapter, led by its Chairman, Com Rotimi Ojomoyela presented an award of excellence to the Legal Icon to appreciate his contributions to humanity and national development.
The legal icon noted that the provisions of the proposed bill in its entirety clearly contravene section 39 of the 1999 constitutions, which guarantee freedom of speech.
Lampooning the champions of the bill, Babalola said: “This is the beginning of dictatorship. There are enough laws like defamation, libel, and slander to deal with anybody who publishes falsehood against someone and it comes by way of taking the person to court.
“So, it is of no need to making new laws to deal with somebody who publishes falsehood. There was no need whatsoever for additional laws to deal with that. Though, people are complaining, because the police are not doing well by delaying prosecution of offenders”.