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‘I Have Been Affected By Fake News, But Don’t Support Hate Speech Bill’- Wole Soyinka

First Bank Nigeria

Wole Soyinka, Nobel laureate, says the hate speech bill will limit free speech.

Soyinka said this on Monday while speaking at a summit to mark the United Nations International Anti- Corruption Day in Abuja.

The professor said the proposed law will curtail the possibility of having an open society and put Nigerians “in a slave plantation”.

He said he would not support the legislation despite being a victim of ”hate news”.

“If we start chopping off the heads of those whom we considered to have offended our sensibilities, either as individuals or as institutions, especially if such actions terminate the possibility of free expression, even though sometimes there is abuse of that expression,” Soyinka said.

“I stand here as one of those individuals who have been most affected by hate news, fake news, even to the extent that I had my identity stolen, abused and used in all kinds of ways, against what I really believe in.

“But I’ll be the last person to support any idea of terminating a recourse to information simply because some people abuse the means of that and the answer to that is people or put them before a firing squad.”

The Nobel laureate said some government agencies could use the bill if signed into law to punish citizens.

“For instance, if the DSS is accused tomorrow of corruption, the DSS will say this is hate speech, off with its head and then maybe when we get to court and the judge grants the poor felon a temporary reprieve to bail, any security agency can then jump in the court, re-arrest the felon, break into the citadel of justice and say ‘we are re-arresting this individual because he’s indulged in hate speech’,” he said.

“Let us be careful in our responses to failures of society and make sure that we are not cutting off our noses to spite our faces.”

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