MRA Sues National Assembly over Hate Speech Bill

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Mr. Olumide Babalola, MRA’s lawyer
Mr. Olumide Babalola,
MRA’s lawyer

Media Rights Agenda (MRA) has instituted an action against the National Assembly, at the Federal High Court in Lagos over the constitutionality of National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speeches (Est, etc) Bill 2019.

Joined as a party to the suit are the Senate President; the speaker of the House of Representatives; Senator AbdullahiAliyuSabi, who is the sponsor of the bill, and the Attorney General of the Federation.

The suit, brought to the Court by MRA’s lawyer, OlumideBabalola, is seeking to restrain the National Assembly, its principal members and the Sponsor of the bill from going forward with the National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speeches (Est, etc) Bill 2019.

The suit is seeking for the following reliefs:

  • A declaration that the National Assembly, the Senate President, the speaker of the House of Representatives and Senator AbdullahiAliyuSabi’s legislative reading and attempt to pass the National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speeches (Est, etc.) Bill 2019 into law is illegal and unconstitutional as it violates the MRA’s fundamental right to freedom of expression and the press as guaranteed by section 39 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act (Cap A9) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
  • A declaration that the National Assembly, the Senate President, the speaker of the House of Representatives and Senator AbdullahiAliyuSabi’s legislative reading and attempt to pass the National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speeches (Est, etc.) 2019 into law is illegal and unconstitutional as it is likely to violate the Applicant’s fundamental right to freedom of expression and the press as guaranteed by sections 39 and 46 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act (Cap A9) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
  • A declaration that the National Assembly, the Senate President, the speaker of the House of Representatives and Senator AbdullahiAliyuSabi’s deliberations, committee meetings, public hearings of the National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speeches (Est, etc.) 2019 with the aim of passing it into law is illegal and unconstitutional as it is likely to violate the Applicant’s fundamental right to freedom of expression and the press as guaranteed by section 39  of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act (Cap A9) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
  • A perpetual injunction restraining the National Assembly, the Senate President, the speaker of the House of Representatives and Senator AbdullahiAliyuSabi, their agents, officers and/or representatives from further consideration, giving effect and/or passing the National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speeches (Est, etc.) 2019 into law as its provisions violate the extant provision of section 39 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 ( as amended) and Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act (Cap A9) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
  • A perpetual injunction restraining the National Assembly, the Senate President, the speaker of the House of Representatives and Senator AbdullahiAliyuSabi, their agents, officers and/or representatives from further deliberations, meetings and/or reading the National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speeches (Est, etc.) 2019 with the intention of passing into law as its provisions violate the extant provision of section 39 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 ( as amended) and Article 9 of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act (Cap A9) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

MRA is also claiming that the bill is not justifiable in a democratic setting and that it is also an attempt by the National Assembly to gag freedom of express and the press.