The Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, has warned that those who engage in spreading hate speech(es) or false news on social media are at the risk of being sent to jail for ten years or compelled to pay N25 million fine.
The IG said this at a meeting with online newspapers, social media influencers and, bloggers organized by National Orientation Agency (NOA) in Abuja yesterday September 12th.
Represented by Kondom Joseph, the police boss said that the cybercrime law of 2015 contains the punishment of spreading hate speech or fake news.
In his words:
“It is sad to note that the many public officers who have been threatening to deal ruthlessly with the excesses of social media operators have not familiarised themselves with the provisions of the two-year old law.
“It is high time the attention of Nigerian was drawn to sections 24 and 26 of the Act which provides that, 24 (1) Any person who knowingly or intentionally sends a message or other matter by means of computer systems or network that is grossly offensive, pornographic or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character or causes any such message to be send. Or he knows to be false, for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience danger, obstruction, insult, injury, criminal intimidation, enmity, hatred, ill will or needless anxiety to another or causes such a message to be; commits an offense under this Act. In the case of paragraphs (a) and (b) of this subsection to imprisonment for a term of 10 years and/or a minimum fine of N25, 000, 000.00.”
It would be recalled that the Federal Government had last month said it would henceforth treat promoters of hate speech as terrorists.
The then Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo while speaking at the National Security Summit organised by the National Economic Council at the old Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, described hate speech as another form of terrorism, which employs violence and intimidation to achieve a certain political objective.
The Chief of Air Staff, Sadiq Abubakar, has also cautioned against the use of social media platforms as a tool for propagating hate speech and circulating false information.
Abubakar explained that using the social media that way would jeopardise the development of Nigeria.
“We are all not unaware of the use of social media by some elements to spread falsehood in addition to promoting hate speech, violence, anarchy, and confusion in our society.
“The message of hate and violence does not augur well for the development of our great nation. I, therefore, implore all relevant stakeholders to focus on the use of the social media to inform, educate and entertain as originally intended.”