Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye and Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
Mr Sam Amuka, the Publisher of The Vanguard Newspapers, has said that there is no need for a Hate Speech death sentence legislation in Nigeria.
Amuka said issues concerning Hate Speech and libel have already been addressed in the Nigerian Constitution, wherein aggrieved persons can seek redress in court of law
Amuka spoke during the launch of the book ‘The Big Interviews’ by Mr Eric Osagie, immediate past Managing Director/Editor-in-Chief of The Sun Newspapers.
Amuka also revealed why alongside the Chairman of Bulet International Construction Company, Ismaila Isa Funtua and the Publisher of ThisDay Newspapers, Mr Nduka Obaigbena, he visited the headquarters of the Department of State Service (DSS) over the detention of the convener of the #RevolutionNow protests, political activist and Sahara Reporters publisher Omoyele Sowore.
Amuka noted that in an era of Fake News, many issues arise, calling for circumspection.
The publisher identified one of the issues facing the country as ‘Hate News’, raising the question of what it implies, what to do about it, what it is and who defines it.
He noted that if someone is maliciously criticised and the person is in power and he has some authority, he could say the criticism is Hate News.
“This is why the sort of thing that we practice as journalists becomes important. I do not think that death sentence is the answer to Hate News,” Amuka observed.
“I do not think that we need to impose legislation against Hate News and Fake News media because our constitution has stated what you should do. You can sue.”
He added that he is a current victim of Hate News, following his involvement in the Sowore matter.
“Some of you would have heard that on the Sowore matter, I was among the persons that went to the DSS. Ismaila Isa was chairman here and Nduka. And what was published online that we saw, that we heard, is the opposite of what actually happened.
“Indeed, we went to DSS, but it was to tell the DSS to release Sowore because we believe that keeping him was not good for the government. It was not to negotiate with Sowore to come to terms with the government and Buhari.
“So, what do you do about it? It is not death sentence that is required. It needs some maturity, some development and deciding that look, in this day and age, you must reconcile. Yesterday is gone and the way we live, we must reconcile to this, we must find, think about the next things to do to get positive results in the interest of the country,” Amuka said.
Speaking earlier, the Chairman of the occasion and immediate past National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, highlighted the importance of the media to any country.
Oyegun said that no country can do without the media, adding that it is only through the media that facts are made known, particularly with regard to those in authorities.
“Without the media, this country will not be where it is today. Without the media, the voiceless will never have a voice. Without the media, our rulers, our leaders, all of us, including myself, will never know the reality of what is going on in the polity. And if you depend on those around you, then you are set for doom. The media tells you exactly as it is.” Oyegun said in his remarks.
Speaking on his book launch, Osagie said: “I carved a niche for myself to talk to, please pardon the word, troublesome and controversial people.”
Osagie added that before his media sojourn in Abuja, he had interviewed the likes of the late Vice Admiral Augustus Aikhomu, General Oladipo Diya and Chief Gani Fawehinmi.
He revealed that upon his arrival in Abuja, he found a city concentrated with the powerful, leading him to questioned himself on how he could make his mark.
“For me, news is what important people have to say. The poor man making news needs an effort. The big man only needs to open his mouth if you ask him the right question and he is on page one,” Osagie said.