The Nigerian Senate has caved in under pressure mounting as voters protested its eforts at passing the controversial hate speech bill.
Senate President Ahmed Lawan said the Senate won’t pass the proposed anti-free speech bills.
Lawan made the disclosure in response to a detailed written protest letter against the hate speech bill and anti-social media bill before the senate by the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA).
He said legislators will heed the calls by Nigerians who have rejected the bills and will do exactly as they demanded.
Lawan had in his letter to HURIWA dated November 20th 2019 which was endorsed by his Chief of Staff; Alhaji Babagana M. Aji but received on December 4th 2019 titled: “RE: WHY NATIONAL ASSEMBLY’S BILLS AGAINST FREE SPEECH ARE UNCONSTITUTIONAL: BY HURIWA,” stated as follows:
“I write to present the compliments of the President of the Senate, His Excellency, Sen. Ahmad Ibrahim Lawan, Ph.D., CON and to acknowledge receipt of your letter on the above subject wherein you asked the National Assembly to suspend ad infinitum the current attempts at introducing obnoxious legislation to curb access to the social media.”
“His Excellency is appreciative of your concern towards upholding our constitution and your members’ continuous use of their talents as writers to promote, protect and project the human rights of all Nigerians. His Excellency assures you that the Senate will not pass any anti-people laws.”
“While thanking you, please accept the assurances of the President of the Senate.”
The group November 13 wrote to the Senate through the office of the Senate President titled: “WHY NATIONAL ASSEMBLY’S BILLS AGAINST FREE SPEECH ARE UNCONSTITUTIONAL: BY HURIWA” even as the group had argued that:
“Freedom of expression is one of the fundamental rights provided in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended). By virtue of the same and other international instruments, it is the freedom to hold opinions, receive ideas and information and impart ideas and information without interference. Social media is used in reference to the means of expression other than the mainstream media.”
The rights group reminded the National Assembly that Freedom of Expression in Nigeria is grounded constitutionally in Section 39 of the CFRN.