In our series of letters from African journalists, novelist and writer Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani looks at the fine line between hate speech and harmless stereotypes in Nigeria.
The Nigerian parliament is considering a bill under which anyone found guilty of “hate speech that results in the death of another person shall die by hanging upon conviction”.
The law also seeks the establishment of an “Independent National Commission for Hate Speech”, to enforce hate speech laws across the country, including jail terms and fines.
This is just the latest in a number of attempts to address what appears to be a rise in hate speech across Nigeria.
In a recent talk, titled, Hate Speech: Halting the Tide Before it is Too Late, the Emir of Kano, Lamido Sanusi, called for “an organised war against hate speech”.
Last year, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo likened hate speech to an act of terrorism.
“[The government has] drawn a line against hate speech,” he said. “It will not be tolerated, it will be taken as an act of terrorism and all the consequences will follow.”
And, while making references to the 1994 genocide in Rwanda which was fuelled by that country’s media, Nigeria’s Minister for Information, Lai Mohammed, said: “In Nigeria today, the hate being spewed on radio stations across the country is so alarming.
“If you tune into many radio stations, you will be shocked by the things being said, the careless incitement to violence and the level of insensitivity…