The senator representing Abia-South Senatorial District of Abia State in the Senate, Enyinnaya Abaribe, has reacted to the death by hanging clause contained in the Hate Speech bill that has passed first reading in the Senate.
Abaribe who joined Nigerians to reject the bill wondered if the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, would still be alive if the law was enacted during the regime of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
Abaribe said Lai Mohammed said a lot of unprintable things about Jonathan at the time, adding that his right to express his opinion was not hindered.
When asked to comment on the controversial bill during a Channels TV programme, Senator Abaribe responded:
“Informing my thoughts, I would want to read out some things for you just to put it in context.
”A government that is unwilling to take responsibility for anything should not be counted upon. A government has responsibility to protect its citizens and not engage in blame game. Now, this President has finally owned up to his globally acknowledged incompetence. Never in the history of any nation has incompetence and cluelessness been exhibited by any leader as being exhibited today in this government. This government is running the country aground with a combination of incompetence and corruption. The fact of this government(sic) has nothing to do with ethnicity but a manifestation of incompetence, cluelessness and inferiority complex.
These were the words of Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information between 2012 and 2014. I bet you that anybody who says this today, they would say it is hate speech. They would say you have called the president incompetent and they will jail you. That is why when you say you have the need to circumscribe people’s rights, you should also remember the past. If a hate speech bill which advocates death by hanging was in place between 2012 and 2014 when Lai Mohammed was making these acerbic statements against the Jonathan administration, do you think he will be alive today?
The right to hold an opinion, make an opinion, is an inalienable right of every citizen of Nigeria and when somebody who used to use this, shows up today and now says no you can’t do it for what he did in the past, that tells you that it’s nothing but intolerance and driving us towards an authoritarian government and I am saying that every Nigerian should wake up to fact that they don’t mean well for us’‘ he said