By Okolo Chimennma
I have read and heard so much of the plan of the Buhari led APC government to use subterfuge to deny citizens of their right to freely express themselves under the guise of hate speech.
It’s more saddening that a supposed Professor of Constitutional Law, who is the vice President (and expected to push for constitutionality in the running of this government) Prof. Yemi Osibanjo is the propagator of such asinine proclamation. One begins to wonder what kind of constitutional law the good Prof. professes to his constitutional law students.
It’s even sadder that the NBC has hurriedly began the censorship with some of its annoying directives to media houses.
And the most debilitating thing to me is the deafening silence of established so called civil societies and labour unions. Soon, even going on industrial action (strike) shall be termed hate speech! I was expecting our people to mobilise Nigerians to protest against such inane policy but we are all quiet.
Sometime back I recall in the course of speaking out against the way and manner the Buhari government was trampling on the rights of citizens in the name of fight against corruption and even the continued detention of people like MNK, El Zakzaky, FFK, Dasuki etc, that I warned that if the judiciary and press keep quiet in the face of blatant disregard for basic Human Rights that’s been trampled on that soon it will be their turns.
This government has gone ahead to ridicule the judiciary and is now on the part to gagging the press and eradicating free speech from our political sphere.
Does all this not sound familiar? We have passed this road before with Gen. Buhari in his first coming. Why is he always afraid of freedom of expression? what is he always hiding?
For those who said he is a reformed democrat whither your democrat? My people have a saying “you cannot learn to use left hand at old age” and supposed enlightened men and women expect Buhari to become a democrat?
I wonder why Buahri seeks to always shut the people up, as a Military usurper he introduced Decree No. 4 to gag the people such that any criticisms against his government was seen as a matter of national security! In 2017 we are back to the dark days of 1984/85!
Thank you Bola Tinubu, Wole Soyinka (I believe you have torn your American passport), Rev. Mbaka (hope the vision and prophecy remains unchanged), Pastor Bakare, and all those who sold Buhari to the 15m gullibles. Hopefully God will forgive you because we won’t.
For those of the Buhari Media Centre and different Buhari choir who are hailing and rationalising this new affront on our collective freedom it shall eventually get to you no matter how vigorously you defend him, he will not spare you too. Look to history of tyrants and learn!
I however, have news for Osinbajo and his father Buhari, this affront on our constitutionally guaranteed rights WILL and CAN NOT stand. This matter shall be fully and vigorously tested before the very highest court in the land.
Nobody can enslave you without your permission.
Somebody tell Buahri and his APC goons that freedom of expression is a constitutionally GUARANTEED RIGHT and NOT a privilege.
I encourage Gen. Buhari, Prof. Osinbajo (VP), Mr. Malami (AG/Minister of Justice), Obloa (SSA on Legal Matters), the NBC Board, media houses, and indeed Nigerians to read, study and digest the full meaning and import of the provisions of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) below:
Section 39 (1) Every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression, including freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference.
(2) Without prejudice to the generality of subsection (1) of this section, every person shall be entitled to own, establish and operate any medium for the dissemination of information, ideas and opinions:
Provided that no person, other than the Government of the Federation or of a State or any other person or body authorised by the President on the fulfilment of conditions laid down by an Act of the National Assembly, shall own, establish or operate a television or wireless broadcasting station for, any purpose whatsoever.
(3) Nothing in this section shall invalidate any law that is reasonably justifiable in a democratic society –
(a) for the purpose of preventing the disclosure. of information received in confidence, maintaining the authority and independence of courts or regulating telephony, wireless broadcasting, television or the exhibition of cinematograph films; or
(b) imposing restrictions upon persons holding office under the Government of the Federation or of a State, members of the armed forces of the Federation or members of the Nigeria Police Force or other Government security services or agencies established by law.
- 22 The press, radio, television and other agencies of the mass media shall at all times be free to uphold the fundamental objectives contained in this Chapter and uphold the responsibility and accountability of the Government to the people.
Okolo Chimennma is a lawyer, equal rights campaigner, advocate for good governance, political affairs commentator and the Rt. Hon. Speaker of the Masses Assembly.