This chapter notes that in recent times, there has been growing concern over the increase in the rate of hate speeches in Nigeria. This is to the extent that the issue of hate speech was reflected in the official 2017 Nigerian Independence Day speech of His Excellency Muhammed Buhari GCFR (extant President of Nigeria) in which he described hate speech as a step too far in questioning the togetherness of Nigeria. A law is being proposed which will categorise hate speech as ‘terrorism’ and a special court created for the prosecution of purveyors of hate speeches and like offences. Some writers have argued, contrary to the position of the National Economic Council of Nigeria and the National Assembly pushing for the enactment of a special law against hate speeches, that Nigeria has enough laws to deal with the growing menace of hate speech in the country. Thus, the contention is now, on the one hand, that Nigeria has sufficient laws to curb the threat of hate speech but that the problem lies in the lack of political will on the part of the government to arrest and prosecute those that contravene the provisions of the relevant laws; while on the other hand, it is argued that the extant laws did not specifically criminalise hate speeches, thus specific and special laws are needed. This contention forms the fulcrum of this chapter. In resolving this conundrum, this chapter analyses the Cybercrimes (Prohibition, Prevention, etc.) Act 2015 with a view to discovering if indeed the provisions of the Cybercrimes Act 2015 are adequate to cover the ‘offence’ of hate speech in Nigeria. The chapter submits that the advancement in technology and influx of social media has caused/encouraged an increase in hate speeches as well as making it easily disseminated and widely circulated. It notes that though the Cybercrimes Act 2015 has provisions that when liberally interpreted can cover offences of hate speeches, however, it will not amount to surplusage or mere time wasting if a special and specific law is enacted to criminalise the subject matter.
First Digital & Techno-Law Forensics Co. Ltd. (in collaboration with Computer Forensics Institute, Nigeria (CFIN)
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