Hate Speech Bill in the interest of Nigerians ― Senate

Claims journalists would be shielded

DESPITE condemnation trailing the controversial bill,  “National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speeches,” the Senate on Wednesday claimed it was in the interest of Nigerians.

The bill sponsored by Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, representing Niger North passed first reading on Tuesday.

The bill prescribed death penalty by hanging upon conviction for any person found guilty for any form of hate speech that results in the death of another person. The Bill defined hate speech as comments that insult people for their religion, ethnic, linguistic affiliation, racial contempt among others.

But speaking with journalists on Wednesday, acting spokesperson of the Senate,  Senator Godiya Akwashiki assured Nigerians that the lawmakers would look at the bill critically during the second reading.  He, however, claimed that even if it passed second reading,  Nigerians particularly media practitioners have nothing to fear.

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He said: “We have a process of enacting a law or an act in the National Assembly or in the state Assembly. The process starts with the First reading when the Leader of the Senate will read it for the first time. The Second reading is taken after the bill has been subjected to debate on the floor of the Senate. Once a bill scale second reading,  it has to go to the committee and would return to the house again.

“If it is a bill that will represent the wishes and interest of Nigerians,  it will scale second reading. If it is a bill that will create hardship for the people of Nigeria and crisis, it will be killed on the floor of the Senate by senators when it comes for second reading

“I want to urge Nigerians to exercise patience with the Senate because it is not wise for me nor legally right for me to discuss a bill that has not been mentioned for the second time on the floor of the Senate. When the bill comes for second reading,  then you will know where it is heading or what the Senate intends to do. I want to assure you that even if the bill scale second reading on the floor of the Senate,  we are working for the progress and betterment of Nigerians. We are representing the local people even in the village. “That bill even if it scales second reading, it  will protect your interest (as journalists) and give you immunity to make sure you do your job justifiably without fear.”

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