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Nigerians Scream Over Proposed Death Sentence For Hate Speech

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Condemnations have trailed the proposed bill seeking to place a death penalty on anyone convicted of hate speech.

The law to establish a National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speeches, on Tuesday, passed its first reading on the floor of the Senate.

The Bill is sponsored by Deputy Chief Whip of the Senate, Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, is coming barely one week after the same chamber initiated moves to regulate the use of social media.

Abdullahi, who was the spokesman of the last Senate, had proposed death by hanging for persons convicted for hate speech. Depending on the degree of the offence, the Bill also provides for life jail, five years of imprisonment, or an option of N10million fine for persons convicted of hate speech.

Reacting, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Chief Agbakoba Olisa, told the senators to kill the bill, as it was irrelevant and unnecessary.

“First, we have laws in place under our criminal justice system; all we need is enforcing the laws against hate speech by the police. But more important is the fact that the bill is also an establishment bill, which means establishing an agency to enforce the laws prescribed by the bill, placing expenditures we cannot afford. Seeing that we are running a deficit budget of nearly 30 per cent, I urge the Senators to kill it.

“An Establishment Bill sets up a bureaucracy and structures with grave implications for financial resources. But an Executor Bill merely legislates on any matter without strain on resources. So, the new Finance Bill is executory as the FIRS will execute the new VAT tax without any financial implications. Executor’s Bill is an executory bill,” said Olisa.

Another SAN, Chief Mike Ozekhome described it as draconian and should be aborted as a malformed embryo at its second reading before it is delivered as a societal monster.

“The bill is an ill-intentioned, ill-conceived, ill-digested and ill-part dictatorial and absolutist piece of nonsensical legislation waiting to consume all of us. An obnoxious law such as this will further drive underground and into hiding, the opposition and genuine social critics who speak truth to power and criticise serial opaque, anti-people, corrupt and high-handed policies of the government.

“This government has been tested and known to be very allergic to constructive criticisms. It is a government that listens to itself, sets its own examination questions, marks them and award marks to itself. Citizens’ opinion does not matter. That is why we have topmost government officials who shock the conscience of Nigerians and the world by saying, for example, that insecurity in Nigeria is exaggerated (Vice President Yemi Osibanjo, SAN); and that Nigerian roads are not as bad as we “falsely” proclaim (Raji Fashola, Minister of Works and Housings).”

Another Senior Advocate, Ahmed Raji, said the world is moving away from the death penalty.

“I think we should start by probing into what constitutes hate speech under the proposed legislation. Notwithstanding what may constitute hate speech, the world is moving away from the death penalty. And what do we intend to achieve by imposing the death penalty? Will it deter? I think not.”

Former Publicity Secretary, Nigeria Bar Association (NBA), Lagos branch, Emeka Nwadioke, said the imposition of the death penalty was ridiculous in an era when many jurisdictions were jettisoning capital punishment. He also said creating another commission for that purpose amounts to a duplication.

“Restrictions on hate speech must not be abused or deployed to silence journalists and minorities or to suppress criticism of government policies, the opposition or religious groups. The provision for the establishment of a Commission is laughable, given that these offences verging on defamation and hate crimes are already being dealt with by the police. Self-regulation backed by industry codes and sanctions as well as advocacy towards respecting pluralism is the way to go.”

Mr. Lanre Arogundade, journalist, activist and Executive Director, International Press Centre (IPC) dismissed it as annoying and unwarranted.

“It is an absolute waste of public resources to seek to establish a National Commission for hate speech at a time when the social and infrastructural needs of citizens are begging for urgent attention. Roads are collapsing, hospitals are failing, schools are getting dilapidated, but fixing those doesn’t seem to be the priority for this bunch of elected representatives of the people.

“The intention is to criminalise dissent, freedom of expression and press freedom, and we will not buy into such anti-human rights agenda. Those who deserve the death penalty are the looters of the treasury, the long list of which EFCC has. And those who deserve a life sentence are those who misappropriate funds meant for constituency projects. Politicians that lie and fail to fulfil campaign promises are the ones who should be under the hangman’s noose.”

Similarly, Herbert Bata, Senior Lecturer, Department of Communication Arts, University of Uyo, said it is uncalled for.

“What is this bellyaching about hatred? Is hatred not an emotion! Is hate speech not an emotional expression? Can you force one to love when he/she feels the opposite? Is it not our fundamental human right to love and to hate?

“I hate wars. Yes, I hate hypocrisy in government. Yes, I hate poverty! I hate illiteracy, disease, filth, corruption, bad governance. I hate them all. I hate those who encourage evil! I hate those who promote homosexuality and same-sex marriage but say polygamy is barbaric. I hate kidnappings, robbery, embezzlement, murder and thieving spirits. And I hate those who perpetrate those acts. Now, isn’t this hate speech?” the don queried.

“Rights activist and lawyer, Kunle Adegoke said while hate speech is condemnable in all its purport and essence, recommending a death sentence is too grave a punishment.

“In this age when the rest of the world is reducing the number of offences punishable by death, Nigeria will be off the mark to be prescribing death sentence for an offence sufficiently punishable by a less prescription”, Adegoke stated.

Chief Abia Onyike, former Deputy National President, Nigeria Union of Journalists, and Centre Against Brutality and Safety of Journalists in Africa (CABSOJA) said the proposed law is a misdirection of energy and an assault on the free press, citizen journalism and freedom of expression.

Rights activist and Executive Director, CABSOJA, Ugochukwu Ezekiel, said the country already has the Cyber Crimes Act bordering on offences committed through the use of social media. According to him, by prescribing the death penalty, the bill was designed to shut out the media from holding the government accountable to its responsibilities.

Head, Department of Mass Communication, Rehma University Aba, Dr. Uwoma Uche, said the death sentence is akin to using a sledgehammer to kill a fly.

He said setting up a Commission to oversee hate speech amounts to duplicating the functions of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) and relevant bodies with the constitutional responsibility of regulating speech in the broadcast media.

A Lagos-based lawyer, Ige Asimudara, faulted the decision of the legislators to entertain the bill.

“These are terrible legislators. How can a legislator propose death penalty for hate speech. This is the beginning of the death of press freedom. It is intended to gag free speech. Who defines hate speech?”

Former chairman of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Ikeja branch, Dave Ajetumibi, said the penalty was too harsh, but supported any law that checks the reckless use of social media.

BIG STORY

Our Government Is Action-driven, Result-Oriented — Rasaq Ajala, Odiolowo/Ojuwoye LCDA Boss [His Full Speech]

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The Chairman of Odiolowo/Ojuwoye Local Council Development Area of Lagos State, Honourable Rasaq Olusola Ajala, has described his administration as not only action-driven but also result-oriented aimed at improving the welfare of the residents of the council and improve their standard of living.

Speaking on his achievements in the office at the council secretariat, Ajala stated that he and his team have been working tirelessly to ensure that dividends of democracy are brought nearer to the people thereby making them feel the positive impact of governance at the grassroots level.

“Thus, it is important that we enlighten our people about the policies, ideals, achievements and also future plans of the administration so that they will constantly be in the know and also be acquainted with ways in which they can take advantage of the various opportunities available to them as citizens of Odi-Olowo/Ojuwoye LCDA,” he said.

He stated further that, “we need to demonstrate through tangible solutions that Odi-Olowo/Ojuwoye LCDA is standing up for the good people of the community and is connected to their needs.

We also need to place more value on education, security, and safety in order to support those who are disadvantaged in one way or the other. We also need to communicate the added value of Odi-Olowo/Ojuwoye community and I believe we have done so on many fronts.

Making an impact in Odi-Olowo/Ojuwoye community remains paramount and essential to this administration and we have exhibited our desired style in the position of all-inclusive governance. The involvement of citizens enables the government to gain greater acceptance while tackling new issues which is one of the many reasons why this administration opted for the political philosophy tagline that says: “common pool for common benefit”.

We believe this conveys what we are trying to do for our people because it represents our primary aim and we continually spare no efforts in demonstrating it with not just words but visible actions”.

Ajala stated that his administration has carved an image of good governance for itself anchored on commitment, efficiency, and inclusiveness.

Below is the full speech of Hon Rasaq Olusola Ajala delivered at the press conference

PROTOCOL:

Good Afternoon Ladies and gentlemen of the press and our partners in progress and thank you for honoring our invitation. The media as we all know is a source of information on the work of the government as well as on the political, cultural and other relevant events within our community. Your efforts in appreciating and criticizing the good work of our LCDA thereby portraying Odi-Olowo/Ojuwoye in good light is not only praiseworthy but highly appreciated. Thank you very much.

This press conference has been put together in order to create awareness and further pass the information to the public at large about our involvement and efforts in catering to the needs of our immediate community and to encourage feedback on how we can do more in ensuring that we place our community on the desired level. It is important that we enlighten our people about the policies, ideals, achievements and also future plans of the administration so that they will constantly be in the know and also be acquainted with ways in which they can take advantage of the various opportunities available to them as citizens of Odi-Olowo/Ojuwoye LCDA.

For the fact that we are at the grassroot level, we have had to employ tactics in dealing with matters that concern our people because the biggest challenge that governments and institutions face today is showing that we care and to mobilize solutions that respond to people’s fears and anxieties with concrete answers.

First we need to demonstrate through tangible solutions that Odi-Olowo/Ojuwoye LCDA is standing up for the good people of the community and is connected to their needs.

We also need to place more value on education, security, and safety in order to support those who are disadvantaged in one way or the other. We also need to communicate the added value of Odi-Olowo/Ojuwoye community and I believe we have done so on many fronts.

Making an impact in Odi-Olowo/Ojuwoye community remains paramount and essential to this administration and we have exhibited our desired style in the position of all-inclusive governance. The involvement of citizens enables the government to gain greater acceptance while tackling new issues which is one of the many reasons why this administration opted for the political philosophy tagline that says: “common pool for common benefit”. We believe this conveys what we are trying to do for our people because it represents our primary aim and we continually spare no efforts in demonstrating it with not just words but visible actions. The performance of the past administrations in our prestigious LCDA has made continuity a yearning for its people and thus, the assumption of office of my administration has undoubtedly proved that we are well equipped for the job ahead of us.

I, Hon Rasaq Olusola Ajala and my team, believe in being action-oriented and result-driven. The efforts we constantly put into action serve as a reminder that people must be carried along through proper dissemination of information on activities and programmes of government and that is one of the targets we seek to achieve with this medium.

Over time, there has been a debate as to why there is a low or inadequate performance at the local government level in Nigeria. Some of the reasons range from low funding to the nation-wide recession amongst many others. This administration also believes that low funding is a major challenge the LCDA is facing because the funds being disbursed from the federal government is not adequate to execute all the needs of our people. I want to stress that in spite of the challenges, we must leave no stone unturned in serving our people.

Looking at the journey since we assumed office, we have carved an image for ourselves that represents good governance, commitment, efficiency, and inclusiveness. We have worked concertedly to cover a milestone in several sectors such as the educational sector, infrastructural sector, agricultural sector, health sector and also in the areas of civic engagement, staff welfare and social intervention programs. Gentlemen of the Press, I will now take you through our achievements which have been made possible through collective efforts from various quarters:

WORKS AND INFRASTRUCTURE

• Construction of 4-rooms office for the use of staff tagged (LAGOS @ 50 BLOCK)
• Completion of drainage projects : ​Ago-Owu Street

​​​​​​​​Alhaji Otta Street

​​​​​​​​Anuoluwapo Street

​​​​​​​​Opeloyeru Street

​Cole Street

​​​Smith Street

• Re-Construction of roads: ​​Araba Street

Oziegbe Street

Cole Street

Ogidan Street

Olorunsogo Street

Iya Egbe Street

​​​​​​​​Alhaji Lasisi Street

​​​​​​​​Ogunji Street

​​​​​​​​Ibukunolu Street

​Ibiteye Street

• Rehabilitation of roads: ​​​Abiodun Street

​​​​​​​​Kumuyi Street

​​​​​​​​Fafolu Street

Macaulay Street

Michael Adekoya Street

• Palliative Roads Obalodu Street

​Ogundele Street

​Bello Cresent

• Renovation and furnishing of the Legislative building​in the council secretariat
• Renovation of HOD’s offices
• Renovation and furnishing of offices for the use of the S.L.G and Supervisors.
• Reconstruction/Rehabilitation of Boreholes (135 Nos.) and provision of generators to power for effective use by the people.
• Complete renovation of the council marriage registry hall.
• Complete renovation of LASSRA building.
• Renovation and furnishing of customary court.
• Complete renovation and re-making of the council Hall.
• Complete renovation of the council premises.
• Procurement of 3 buses for the police formation in the LCDA
• Refurbishment of pick up van for Ilupeju police station
• Procurement of 2 trucks for evacuation of refuse and carting away of desilted drain waste.
• Renovation and re-making of the chairman and vice chairman’s office
• Construction and furnishing of police post for theuse of mopol unit at Alhaji Lasisi street, Idi-Oro.

HEALTH SECTOR

• Ongoing reconstruction of coker primary health care, ilupeju
• The community was duly sensitized on Lassa Fever, Monkey pox virus, polio and measles
• Medical mission in collaboration with Rotary Club Ilupeju, NYSC, pharmaceutical council of Nigeria, Fidson pharmaceutical and Synlab on free blood pressure test, free treatment on hypertension and Eye screening, consultation and free treatment.
• Maternal and child health week: Immunization, family planning, ante-natal, delivery, post-natal, hand washing, HIV counseling and screening, mosquito net distribution, de-worming of children under five (5) years, supplements distribution to pregnant women, malaria diagnosis and treatment, nutrition counseling at four primary health care centres (PHC’s) namely: Ayantuga, Coker, Anikulapo and Kajola.

AGRIC AND SOCIAL SERVICE

Organisation of programmes targeted at community development and civic engagement. The programmes include;

• Odi-Olowo/Ojuwoye Traders Money (Trade Assistance programme: TAP)
• Sales of chickens at subsidised rate during the christmas period
• Eid-el-Kabir celebration and sales of Ileya rams at subsidized rates

• Participation at annual celebration of Community day.
• Introduction of carol and thanksgiving service to celebrate the yuletide season
• Pre-Ramadan lecture to foster religious harmony.
• Periodic meeting with stakeholders

• YOUTH DEVELOPMENT
• Table Tennis Championship
• Boxing Tournament
• Novelty match
• Skill acquisition programs

WASTE AND SANITATION

• Initiation of a programme tagged operation ‘Keep Odi-Olowo/Ojuwoye LCDA Clean A Must (KOOCAM)
• Procurement of two trucks for refuse collection and disposal
• Employment of over 100 sanitation corps
• Procurement of sanitation equipments for fumigating and cleaning.
• Regular drainage clearing and silt removal.
• Evacuation of refuse from illegal dungs and black spots around the LCDA thereby reducing flood and ensuring free flow of waste water.

• Regular Inspection of residential, industrial and commercial premises to ensure clean environment, community participation in sanitation and hygiene. This inspection led to reduction of breeding spaces and places for vectors andn rodents.

• Public enlightenment on environment education and sanitation
• Tree Planting Exercise

EDUCATIONAL SECTOR

• Transportation of one thousand five hundred (1500) primary school students in Odi-Olowo/Ojuwoye LCDA to their common entrance venues.
• Construction of 6 blocks of classrooms at Ajenifuja primary school and Nusara-U-Deen primary school
• Renovation of Structural defects of classrooms (replacement of roofs, provision of fence, construction of drains etc…) in all the twenty seven (27) public primary schools in the LCDA.
• Annual financial support of sporting activities in all the twenty seven (27) public primary schools within the LCDA.
• Procurement of two free school buses for students within the community
• Provision of one thousand (1000) copies of upper basic mathematics workbook with past questions and answers to J.S.S 3 students within the LCDA.
• Home economics equipment (Refrigerators, Freezer, four burner cooking gas, and manual gas cooker) presented to the home economics centre at Adeleye Primary School.
• Free G.C.E forms distributed to indigent students within the LCDA
• Sponsorship and assistance towards the celebration of World Teachers Day.
• Sponsorship of the annual spelling bee competition

STAFF WELFARE

• Periodic financial assistance to staff
• Payment of bonus during festive period
• Medical assistance to staff that have health challenges

INFORMATION MANAGEMENT

• Building of official website for the council.
• Construction and placement of complaint boxes at strategic locations within the LCDA.
• Procurement of gadgets and equipment for information dissemination within the LCDA.

From this narrative, it is evident that this administration is leaving no stone unturned in delivering on our electoral promises. It is worthy to note that governance should not be only by saying but by doing what will be of utmost benefit to the people. As we look at the various challenges we face daily, there is no doubt that the desired solution requires collective efforts.

The truth is that many of us are not convinced of the power and purpose of cooperation thus we need to understand why, and ultimately act on that understanding.

It is my sincere desire that this administration in its pursuit of serving and improving the overall conditions of its people strategically positions Odi-Olowo/Ojuwoye Local Council Development Area as an ideal frontline grassroots community.

Therefore, I would like to use this medium to appeal to every member of Odi-Olowo/Ojuwoye community to please pay their rates and levies because it is only with your unflinching support and encouragement that we will be able to continue the good works.

We will continue to encourage collaboration from stakeholders and private sector participants in moving Odi-Olowo/Ojuwoye LCDA forward.

To the gentlemen of the Press, I encourage you to serve us with critiques that will spur us to do better for the greater good of not just our community but the society at large.

Thank you and God bless you all.

Long Live Odi-Olowo/Ojuwoye LCDA

Long Live Lagos State

Long Live the Federal Republic of Nigeria

Hon Rasaq Olusola Ajala

Executive Chairman

Odi-Olowo/Ojuwoye LCDA

​Opeloyeru Street

​Cole Street

​​​Smith Street

• Re-Construction of roads: ​​

Araba Street

Oziegbe Street

Cole Street

Ogidan Street

Olorunsogo Street

Iya Egbe Street

​​​​​​​​Alhaji Lasisi Street

​​​​​​​​Ogunji Street

​​​​​​​​Ibukunolu Street

​Ibiteye Street

• Rehabilitation of roads: ​​​Abiodun Street

​​​​​​​​Kumuyi Street

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BIG STORY

Why Blackout Persists Despite Strike Suspension —- Transmission Company of Nigeria

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The Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), on Thursday, said some parts of the country might still experience blackouts caused by the just suspended strike by the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) on Wednesday.

It said that led to grid instability as the system was forced to shut down.

The TCN Managing Director (MD), Mr. Usman Gur Mohammed, who stated at a press briefing in Abuja, explained that it takes a minimum of one day for the grid to be stabilized.

Although he noted that the entire country had been reached, supply would be gradually restored.

“At the point of ramping up, the grid was brought down by force and this caused a lot of problems but as of today, we have reached all parts of the country. However it takes time, it is a gradual thing. Normally it takes more than one day. ” he said.

Meanwhile, the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC), on Thursday, had said that customers within its franchise area have continued to experience blackout as a result of grid fluctuation.

In a statement published via its twitter handle, it hinted that it is experiencing challenges in power supply due to fluctuation caused by a grid system outage.

The terse statement partly reads: “Dear esteemed customers, this is to inform you that we are currently experiencing some challenges with power supply as a result of fluctuation leading occasionally to a grid system outage. “

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BIG STORY

BREAKING: 28 Family Members Die In Bauchi Auto Crash

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No fewer than 28 persons said to be members of the same family were reportedly burnt beyond recognition in a fatal auto crash that occurred on the Bauchi-Ningi federal highway in Bauchi State.

The crash, we gathered, occurred in the early hours of Thursday.

Speaking to our correspondent in a telephone interview, a relation of the victims, Abdullahi Yamadi, confirmed the incident and described it as “very sad.”

Yamadi, who is the Secretary, North-West Zone of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, said the deceased were all his relatives.

He said they were on their way to Yola, Adamawa State when the incident occurred.

He told The PUNCH: “Yes, the accident is true and all of the deceased are my relatives.

“They were traveling to Yola, Adamawa State, for a visit when the unfortunate incident happened.

“You know, after the harvest and at seasons like this, people travel to visit loved ones resident in different places; and that was where they were going to.

“They left Dutsinma, Katsina State, and they had left Jigawa State and were within Bauchi State when their vehicle had a head-on collision with another vehicle.

“They were 29 in the vehicle and all of them died except the driver, who survived.

“This is very sad news and very pathetic for 28 people from the same family to die in an accident in one day.

“It is really sad.”

The Bauchi Police Command has yet to make an official pronouncement on the incident.

Details later…

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