By Buchi James
Senator Akon Eyakenyi (PDP Akwa Ibom South) has condemned the controversial Social Media and Hate Speech Bills currently before the floor of the 9th Senate. The Akwa Ibom lawmaker in a statement last week stated that if the Bill for an Act to make Provisions for the Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulation and for Related Matters, 2019 and the Hate Speech Bill are passed by the 9th Senate, it will represent an abrogation of the freedom of expression of the Nigerian people. “The mandates we hold as senators are in trust for the people and the powers we exercise are delegated by the people with whom power resides.” “Therefore, any attempt to shut up and threaten the owners of the mandate from freely holding their opinions in line with our laws shall strongly be resisted by me.” The senator stated that freedom of expression, besides being a fundamental human right, as enshrined in the
Nigerian constitution, the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, and the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, is a necessary ingredient that is required for the sustenance of any true democratic system. She also added that moving against the people’s freedom to expressthemselves is tantamount to degenerating into a dictatorship and therefore, called on his fellow senators to use the power entrusted to them by the people to stand firmly against the bills. Her words: “The ECOWAS Court of Justice and the African Court of Human Rights have in the past declared similar attempts as illegal. Across the globe, infringements on human rights and free press are condemnable.” “We must, therefore, be careful not to portray ourselves as a country that is sliding into intolerance and, we must not allow the rights we fought for and won to be abrogated by misconceived opinions. “I, therefore, condemn in the strongest terms, the proposed pieces of legislation which in my judgement are not in the best interest of our image as Africa’s Big Brother.