The Alaafin of Oyo, Lamidi Adeyemi has shared his opinion on the controversial hate speech bill which was re-introduced in the 9th senate by Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi.
Speaking at a book presentation which is part of the activities to mark the 70th anniversary of the Nigerian Tribune, the Alaafin of Oyo called on lawyers and lawmakers not to allow the bill which seeks to regulate and punish people who make unguarded statements to be passed into law.
The Oyo monarch wondered if an opinion contrary to that of the government is enough for one to be put to death. He added that a government official who doesn’t want to be criticized has no business with governance.
He said; “If I have not killed anyone; and I give an opinion that is contrary to the government’s, will it be a sufficient reason for me to be charged for the death penalty? Where are the lawyers in Nigeria? Constitutional lawyers in Nigeria, where are they? Can’t they speak up?”
In backing his claim, the monarch also went down memory lane on the need to defend free speech and right to education.
He said “My friend, Chief Nnamdi Azikiwe has a peculiar character and I wish he could continue to learn about the constitutional lesson from Chief Obafemi Awolowo in his reply to Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe. We have a quotation and quotations from this literate man.
“During the Constitutional conferences held in the 50s at Lancaster House, three giants from the country postulated different approaches to the Nigerian Independence. Sir Ahmadu Bello said North is for Northerners; East for Easterners and West for the Westerners. Azikiwe said, there should be one Constitution, one Country, one destiny.
“Awolowo rose up and said No!. We are not talking about the Constitution that will be suitable for Nigeria. But what is suitable for Nigeria is when you have a multilingual, multinational and multi-religious country with diverse races. That before independence the whole school we had on the ground was 123 for the whole of the North while the South had 5,000 schools. There is no way. That illiterate will continue to govern the literate people. It cannot work and it will not work.
“Awolowo projected what will be the question of North-east, North-central. That of you don’t educate the people, the Almanjiri will become bandits. Today, in Zamfara and Yobe, the governments are now subjected to banditry. And they are exchanging these bandits, giving them money. How can the government give bandits money? That is a collapse of governance and government.”