The Inspector General of Police has said that hate speech offenders who peddle information off or on social media, which causes a negative effect on the country, risk being jailed for 10years, or N25Million fine. The IGP Ibrahim Idris, also said that it is the job of the Police to dabble into maintaining law and order in a democratic society, hence, the Armed Forces should not be allowed to arrest alleged purveyors of hate speeches. He said the military cannot dabble into enforcement of Cybercrime (Prohibition, Prevention ETC) Act, 2015, which the executive has categorized as “hate speech” in social media.
Speaking at a roundtable organised by the National Orientation Agency (NOA), in Abuja for bloggers, online publishers, social media influencers and the traditional media, on the dangers of the current spate of hate speeches in the country, the police boss urged Nigerians to be mindful of Sections 24 and 26 of the Act.
Idris, who was represented by Mr London Joseph, reminded social media operators that an offender, on conviction risk imprisonment for 10 years and/or a minimum fine of 25m.
“For the avoidance of doubt, section 4 of the Police Act has empowered the Nigeria Police Force to arrest and prosecute criminal suspects in the country.
“However, section 47 (1) of the Cybercrime (Prohibition, Prevention ETC) Act provides that law enforcement agencies shall have the power to prosecute offences under this Act while section 58 thereof defines law enforcement agencies to include “any agency for the time being responsible for implementation and enforcement of the provisions of this Act.” Continuing, he added that, “as the Nigerian Army is not one of the law enforcement agencies envisaged by the Act and other penal laws, it should not be permitted to enforce any of the laws against hate speeches.”
Director of Defence Information, Major General John Enenche had recently explained that the military’s monitoring of the media was only to get information for threat analysis, which had nothing to do with monitoring hate speech on social media.
In his remarks, NOA Director General, Dr. Garba Abari, noted that the vibrancy of every democracy was measured by the freedom the media enjoyed.
Abari said the emergence and activities of new news media have thrown up great concerns within the social space, hence the imperative of reasoning together, to “appreciate the dangers of conflict insensitive communication and possibly stimulate bloggers and social media enthusiasts to evolve a Code of Ethics, in order to self-regulate their practice.”
He also disclosed that the NOA had, in a bid to stem the dangerous tide, commenced a process of engaging bloggers and social med The program has taken place in four geopolitical zones of the country. They are North-Central, North West, South West and South South.