- It appears Lai Mohammed is changing his tone following an increase in hate speech fine
- The federal government about two months ago announced an increase in the fine from N500,000 to N5m
- However, Mohammed has said that he never announced such a fine in spite of the evidence
Nigeria's information minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed has denied announcing an increase in the fine for hate speech despite the video clip that shows him making the statement, The Punch reports.
The minister in response to a motion filed by Inibehe Effiong, human rights lawyer before a Federal High Court in Lagos, to challenge the imposition of the fine stated on oath that he never made such an announcement.
Back in August, Mohammed had announced the decision of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to increase the fine for hate speech from N500,000 to N5m.
He clarified that the amendments were necessitated by a presidential directive, in the wake of the 2019 general elections.
Nonetheless, the information minister in a counter-affidavit deposed by Sunday Ojobo, a litigation secretary at the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, explained that Mohammed never announced such a fine.
The affidavit reads in part:
“Paragraph 19 is denied. The 2nd defendant (Mohammed) did not announce an increment in any fine for hate speech from N500,000 to N5,000,000 or any other because there is a governmental body or institution mandated to regulate and enforce the Nigerian Broadcasting Code.”
While noting that the constitution allows for human rights to be suspended for the sake of national interest, Mohammed stated that the commission is given power by the NBC Act to sanction stations that contravene its code.
Meanwhile, Legit.ng reported that President Muhammadu Buhari has been urged to instruct Mohammed and the NBC to withdraw the fine against hate speech.
This is as reactions continue to trail the imposition of the N5 million fine. The call was made by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP).
The group also called on Mohammed who is the minister of information and culture and the NBC to immediately rescind the fine of N5m imposed on Nigeria Info 99.3 FM radio station.
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