Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), has declared that the National Assembly lacks the legislative competence to pass the bill for the establishment of Hate Speech Commission.
He threatened legal action to challenge the constitutionality of the bill if it were passed by the National Assembly and signed into law by President MuhammaduBuhari.
According to him, with hate speech being “a residual matter”, the bill would encroach on the legislative autonomy of the state governments
In a statement on Monday, Falana said hate speech was not an item on either the exclusive or concurrent legislative lists in the Nigerian Constitution, therefore the National Assembly lacked the power to legislate on it.
He said, “The power of the National Assembly to make laws for the peace, order and good governance of the federation of any part thereof cannot be exercised at large.
“By virtue of section 4 of the Constitution, the power of the National Assembly to make laws is limited to matters in the Exclusive Legislative and Concurrent Legislative Lists.
“To the extent that hate speech is not covered by both Legislative Lists the National Assembly cannot pass any hate speech bill.”
He added, “Finally, even though the obnoxious bill is the initiative of a member of the House of Representatives, the Buhari administration has adopted it hook, line and sinker.
“The constitutional validity of the bill will certainly be challenged in the Federal High Court if it is passed by theNational Assemblyand assented to by President Buhari.”
Falana noted that on the grounds that Nigeria was operating a federal system of government, the Supreme Court of Nigeria had declared in several cases that the National Assembly lacked the constitutional powers to make laws outside its legislative competence.