THE POLITICS OF HATE SPEECH AND FUNDAMENTAL HUMAN RIGHT IN NIGERIA, 2015-2020.
Keywords:Hate Speech, Fundamental Human Right, Freedom of Expression
One of the cardinal pillars of democracy is the right to free speech. This right is universally recognizes and protected in several statutory instruments of states, albeit its limitations. In Nigeria, however, the protection and promotion of freedom of speech appears to be problematic due to governmental policies and actions targeted at curbing alleged incidences of hate speech. This paper interrogated the politics of hate speech and fundamental human rights with specific reference to efforts by the current administration in Nigeria to censor hate speech; an action that has brought about public outcry, mass criticism, protests and agitations that marred government proposal concerning hate speech law. The paper adopts the social Responsibilities Media Theory originated from Robert Hutchins Commission on the freedom of press of 1947 that explain the rights of the press to criticize any institutions and even government. The paper adopted a qualitative approach, addressed three objectives, which were tested by content analysis by relying on extant literature and other documented evidences. Findings of the study show that hate speech in Nigeria is largely promoted by the political class. Findings further show that hate speech law poses serious challenges to fundamental human rights of freedom of expression in Nigeria. It also found that existing laws that seek to address hate speech in Nigeria, such as the Electoral Act, have implementation gaps. Besides, it revealed that hate speeches are catalysts of disintegration among the different religious and tribal groups in Nigeria The paper insists on a clear and objective understanding of what constitute hate speech and the parameters for delineating it as necessary pre-condition for mitigating its abuses and therefore guaranteeing the rights to freedom of expression by political opposition and ordinary citizens. The study recommends that the guarantee of freedom of expression requires that hate speech laws are carefully drafted, and that the implementation gaps associated with laws that address hate speech and rights violation should be strengthened.