Exactly a year ago, I made a post on Facebook asking Amnesty International when they would start a campaign to fight for the right of IG Wala. The activist was sentenced to 12 years in jail after being found guilty of gathering an unlawful assembly and criminal defamation of character.
In 2017, IG Wala made a post on Facebook accusing Abdullahi Mukhtar, Chairman of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) of corruptly enriching himself with N3billion after the 2017 Hajj. Wala was arrested following a petition written by Abdullah Mukhtar alleging public defamation of his integrity and the commission he heads. he was sentenced to 12 years in jail when he could not defend his claims.
Similarly, a 32-year-old man was remanded by an Osun court yesterday over alleged fake news that he posted on Facebook. The man who was identified as Akinloye Saheed was arrested for allegedly posting false information on Facebook against the Osun State Government. Akinloye, who is one of the leaders of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Osun was docked on four-count charges bothering on defamation, false information, instill fear and an inciteful statement against the government.
The charge against him reads: “That you Akinloye Saheed ‘m’ on 11th day of April 2020 at 11:05 pm at Osogbo did interfere with an executive order of the Osun State government when you published on your Facebook page that “When I accused Osun Government of importing COVID-19 patients into the state just to access fund from the FG, many didn’t believe. The said imported patients are now negative. APC, you are not doing well.”
NO FREEDOM OF SPEECH
It baffles me when people tell lies and give misleading information yet claim freedom of speech is their right and everyone is entitled to his own opinion. Truth be told, there is no freedom of speech, only freedom of getting into trouble when the limits are crossed. Lies, fabrications and defamation of character are not protected by the law. Also, while every one his entitled to his opinion, some talks are simply illogical and obnoxious that they are unworthy of being called an opinion.
Sadly, ‘wooman’ rights organizations prioritize the protection and defense of people who spread lies capable of destroying a nation. Actions come with consequences. Those who lie and spread propaganda in guise resistance are no freedom fighters. When these people get prosecuted, they are not oppressed, they have only gotten what they deserved.
The Nigerian Media space is full of lies especially on the Social Media. While Whatsapp tops the list of fake news platforms, the birth of Opera News has seen fake news come to us in a grand style as people make reference to it as if it is BBC or CNN. If Nigeria does not kill fake news broadcast, fake news will kill Nigeria.
The arrest and prosecution of people who spread fake news is commendable. At least, as much we think there is freedom of speech, people would become aware that they have a choice between freedom of saying the truth and freedom of getting into trouble.
Bashir Lucas Samson Lukman