The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has called on President Muhammadu Buhari, to reverse the penalty for hate speech fine immediately.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, on Tuesday, reviewed the penalty for hate speech in Nigeria.
Mohammed disclosed that the penalty for hate speech has increased from N500,000 to N5 million.
The Minister stated this at the unveiling ceremony of the reviewed Nigeria Broadcasting Code organized by the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) in Lagos.
He said: “The amended Code also includes the provision raising the fine for hate speech from 500,000 Naira to 5 million Naira.”
Reacting, SERAP in a tweet via its official Twitter handle on Tuesday, described the increase in hate speech fine as ‘unconstitutional and illegal,’ adding that it would further curtail freedom of expression and open the door for law enforcement officials to target critics.
“We’re calling on President Buhari to immediately reverse the unconstitutional and illegal increase in ‘hate speech fine’ from N500,000 to N5m,” SERAP tweeted.
“We’ll fight to challenge this illegality in court to make sure that the fine doesn’t become another tool for repression.
“This fine would further curtail freedom of expression and open the door for law enforcement officials to target critics.
“The fine fails to meet the standards of legality, necessity and proportionality in article 19(3) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
“The Buhari government should be removing restrictions on freedom of expression, not imposing heavy fines that risk stifling critical public debate on important issues.
“The leadership of the National Assembly should publicly condemn this restriction on constitutional rights.”