By Musa Sunusi Ahmad
The Federal Government has explained that any speech, broadcast, or publication that denigrates a person, a group of people on the basis of their sex, religion, political belief, or origin is hate speech”.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, gave the explanation on Thursday when he appeared on the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Forum held at the agency’s headquarters in Abuja.
“Any broadcast or publication that tends to erode social cohesion that is an attack on our inclusion and common value is hate speech.
“Those who go to television and denigrate one person or the other with a view to cause social disharmony have breached the hate speech code.
“They know what they are doing, and they must be made to pay for it,” the minister said while justifying the increase of hate speech fine from N500,000 to N5 million in the amended National Broadcasting Code.
The minister said the fine was raised for national security and to serve as deterrent to those bent on destabilising the country through the use of fake news and hate speech.
“No country is going to sit down and fold its arms and be destroyed by fake news or hate speech especially in Nigeria where we are divided along ethnicity, religion and culture.
“In practice what we found was that when the fine for hate speech was just half a million, people were reckless because they could easily pay the half a million fine.
“As a matter of fact, our findings shows that when people take advert to broadcast houses and the broadcast houses refused the advert on ground that if they air them they will be fined half a million Naira, the purveyor of hate speech will say, don’t worry, we will pay you N1 million extra.
‘With the N5 million we want to see whether they will add another N10 million to their advert rate.
“For us, it is very practical and for those who said it is primitive, we disagree with them because we want to safe Nigeria from purveyors of hate speech,’ he said.