Nigeria News

Implications of Hate Speech Law

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ElevateNews takes a look at the implications of the bill on hate speech.

Thank God that the bill to establish an agency for hate speech has only passed the Senate first reading, meaning that it is not yet a law.

The bill has proposed a death penalty for any guilty offender of the hate speech and if it scales the Senate and eventually signed into law, many Nigerians may rot in jail or hanged to death not because the law has so insisted but because there is lack of facility to check facts and evidence with this kind of law in place.

The bill, if it becomes a law will be defying some aspects of the Cyber Crime law of 2015, which also addresses some issues on hate speech. As at today, the cybercrime law has failed to establish so many cases because of the lack of forensic evidence.

There are hundreds of suspects on awaiting trials in jails just because there are no evidence to establish if truly they are the perpetrators of the cybercrime.

Let us take a look at a scenario in which a hacker hacks into a social media account or creates one in his victim’s name and uses it to perpetrate hate speech.

To establish the actual perpetrator of the hate speech, computer forensic analysis is needed, among other things, including the internet protocol address where the hate speech had emanated from.

Currently, most devices do not use static internet protocol addresses but dynamic addresses. Their IP addresses change each time they go online as configured by their internet service provider. To be able to track the erring device requires computer forensics which, largely our law enforcement agencies do not have the ability to carry out or even meet the increasing demands.

Assuming the crime was perpetrated with a victim device or with someone else’s device in the victim’s name and not even by the owner of the device, it will take a lot of time, money and computer forensics to unravel and God have mercy, the innocent victim may die in jail in a country where detailed investigations are not been carried out.

Assuming again, the perpetrator does not live in Nigeria, it will also require a lot of funding and collaboration with law enforcement agents where he resides to track him which, all seem herculean.

The innocent victim will have to spend some good time behind bars because of the lack of capacity and computer forensics knowledge by both the judicial officers and law enforcement agents.

In an ideal environment, arrests won’t be made until investigations (in this case, which would cost a lot) are concluded but in Nigeria? Your guess is as good as mine.

What if judgement is given based on available evidence that your credible social media account was used to perpetrate hate speech from your device when you didn’t do it and you couldn’t provide an alibi? Execution? This is frightening as it will not help the poor masses but the politicians who do not want the public to criticize them.

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