The chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, Professor Itse Sagay, has rejected the idea of monitoring private citizens, saying it would be undemocratic.
Sagay was reacting to the decision of the Federal Government to monitor social media posts of notable Nigerians.
The government said it came up with the policy to monitor and curb hate speech among the elite.
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria, however, said there was a need to curb the spread of hate speech which he noted was on the increase.
He added that anyone found culpable of spreading hate speech should be prosecuted by the authorities.
“Definitely, hate speech is something to be condemned and while I don’t think we should engage in monitoring what people are saying, the issue now is how else will the propagation of hate speech be stopped?
“Social media has become a big tool for people to say all sorts and these things spread to millions of people sometimes. My opinion is that while there is basic freedom of speech and a right to use the social media at our disposal, we must do so within certain bounds of security and decency.
“So, while the issue of monitoring is a bit obnoxious, let me say that if anybody is found to have abused the right to freedom of expression by engaging in hate speech, he should be prosecuted. But I don’t support entirely the issue of monitoring because that will turn Nigeria to a sort of ‘Big Brother’ state, which is anti-democratic,” Sagay told Punch newspaper.
Similarly, human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), said the directive by the Federal Government would lead to a violation of the rights of the citizens.
His words: “Section 37 of the Constitution of Nigeria has guaranteed the fundamental right of every citizen to privacy of their home, telephone and correspondence.
“To the extent that emails, WhatsApp, twitter and SMS are part of the correspondence of notable Nigerians, the security agencies cannot monitor them without a court order.”