Why judges must be protected against cyber bullying – Enebeli

Ogunsakin Mustapha
4 Min Read
Chukwudi Enebeli

Alarmed by the dangerous rise in hate speech and false claims against Nigerian judges in the social media, a lawyer, Chukwudi Enebeli has called on the authorities to promulgate new laws to regulate the social media and cyber space.

He condemned social media abuse by its users, arguing that those who helped in spreading hate speech including traditional and social media platforms ought to be held responsible.

Enebeli spoke as a panellist on the topic “Fake news, cyber bullying and hate speech on social media: what is it and how do we deal with it?” at the 63rd Annual General Conference (AGC) of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) ongoing in Abuja.

He stated that fake news, cyber bullying and hate speech were serious issues in Nigeria because of the country’s diversity and high illiteracy rate.

Panelists: Chukwudi Enebeli, Prof. M.T. Ladan, the DG NIALS, Mrs. Sola Salako-Ajulo and DCP Uche Ifeanyi Henry.

According to him, the right to freedom of expression under the constitution is not absolute because the constitution recognises that if the right is not curtailed “then anarchy would be the order of the day.”

He argued that even though the Cybercrimes Prohibition Act and the Electoral Act have provisions to curtail hate speech, little has been done by the enforcement authorities.

The lawyer also condemned lawyers and non-lawyers who comment on judicial proceedings in a manner capable of inciting the public against the judiciary and the legal profession.

Enebeli said: “We have seen an unprecedented increase in the manner in which both lawyers and non-lawyers go to the social media space and incite the public against judicial officers, and we are watching and no one is speaking. What is so painful is the fact that these judges cannot speak for themselves”.

He therefore recommended that new laws be promulgated to regulate social media and the cyberspace. “Both the networks and the various social media platforms must be made accountable. In promulgating new laws we must create an offence aimed at prohibiting both lawyers and non-lawyers from disseminating any information before, during and after proceedings which are capable of inciting the people against the judiciary as it relates to matters in court;

“There must also be stringent punishment. Section 97(1) of the Electoral Act should also be amended to include the punishment of deregistering a political party as well as banning any candidate that campaigns on the basis of tribe, religion or sectional reasons from participating in any election for a period of ten years.

“It is the severity of the punishment that serves as a deterrent”

Other members of the panel were Prof. M.T. Ladan, the DG of the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (NIALS), Mrs. Sola Salako-Ajulo and DCP Uche Ifeanyi Henry.

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