Death Penalty Will Be Amended, Says Sponsor Of Hate Speech Bill

 

Sponsor of the bill to establish a National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speech, Senator Abdullahi Sabi, has said that the death penalty proposed for anyone found culpable will be amended by the senate.

Senator Sabi in a statement on Sunday explained that the bill will be fine-tuned to ensure that the clauses contained in its provisions to be passed into law, reflect the views of Nigerians when it goes through legislative input by the National Assembly.

The bill was read on the floor of the Senate on November 12 and Deputy Chief Whip who sponsored the legislation stated that it will address the dangers hate speech poses for the country.

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The Bill defines the act of Hate speech as, a person who uses, publishes, presents, produces, plays, provided, distributes and/or directs the performance of any material, written and or visual which is threatening, abusive or insulting or involves the use of threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour commits an offence if such person intends thereby to stir up ethnic hatred, or having regard to all the circumstances, ethnic hatred is likely to be stirred up against any person or person from such an ethnic group in Nigeria.

It adds that: Any person who commits an offence under this section shall be liable to life imprisonment and where the act causes any loss of life, the person shall be punished with death by hanging.

He added that contributions and inputs by critics and supporters of the bill will be welcomed by the Senate.

We have followed closely arguments for and against the hate speech bill and seen the reason why some kicked against it.

“Given the high respect which we have for Nigerians, we will make an amendment to the death penalty aspect that most Nigerians objected to so that a bill that meets their expectations is passed into law.

“Clearly from the conversations, Nigerians agree that we have a problem in the society today as a result of hate speech which has fuelled so many killings and violence, and is responsible for cases of depression and suicides.”

The lawmaker explained that the Independent National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speech to be established will guard against every act of discrimination against Nigerians by way of victimization.

The Commission, according to Abdullahi, will have an executive chairperson, a secretary and twelve commissioners appointed through a rigorous process involving the National Council of State, the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the National Assembly.

“The overall concern is to curb violence and unnecessary loss of lives and livelihoods of Nigerians due to hate-induced violence.”

Hate Speech Bill: Propose Death Penalty For Corrupt Politicians, Falana Tells NASS

 

Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Femi Falana has asked the National Assembly to make laws that will pronounce death penalty for corruption perpetrated by politically exposed persons.

Mr Falana while reacting in a statement to the hate speech bill currently debated by lawmakers described it as an encroachment on the legislative autonomy of the state governments.

A bill to establish a National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speech, sponsored by Senator Abdullahi Sabi, was introduced on the floor of the Senate on November 12 and has generated reactions across the country.

The bill proposes that any person, who commits an offence deemed as hate speech, shall be liable to life imprisonment and where the act causes any loss of life, the person shall be punished with death by hanging.

READ ALSO: Senator Vows To Go Ahead With Bill To Establish Prohibition Of Hate Speech

The Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), explained that the National Assembly has no power to exercise such power because Hate Speech is not covered in the Exclusive Legislative and Concurrent Legislative Lists.

“Since we are operating a federal system of government the supreme court of Nigeria had declared in a number of cases that the national assembly lacks the constitutional powers to make laws outside its legislative competence, which are by implication residual matters meant for the houses of assembly of the states. Certainly, the hate speech bill is an attempt to encroach on the legislative autonomy of the state governments.

“However, it is pertinent to point out that the Penal Code and Criminal Code applicable in the northern and southern states respectively have made provisions for hate speech because it is a state offence. Hence, the house of assembly of each of the state has enacted laws against incitement, false accusation, sedition and criminal defamation.”

Mr Falana decried the move, urging the sponsors of the bill to uphold the decision of Nigeria’s founding fathers who created a constitution that guarantees freedom of speech.

“The decision of the founding fathers of this present constitution which guarantees freedom of speech which must include freedom to criticize should be praised and any attempt to derogate from it except as provided in the Constitution must be resisted. Those in public office should not be intolerant of criticism. Where a writer exceeds the bounds there should be a resort to the law of libel where the plaintiff must of necessity put his character and reputation in issue.

“Finally, while the leaders of the national assembly may want to advise the legislature in each of the states of the federation to review the applicable penal statutes to review the provisions on hate speech we are compelled to urge the few bloodthirsty legislators in the national assembly to amend the anti-graft laws to provide death penalty for grand corruption perpetrated by politically exposed persons to the detriment of development in the country.”

He added that even though the bill is sponsored by a member of the House of Representatives, it has been adopted by the Buhari-Led Federal Government.

He maintained that the constitutional validity of the Bill will be challenged in the Federal High Court if it is passed by the national assembly and assented to by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Senate Introduces Bill To Prohibit Hate Speech

A file photo of lawmakers during plenary in the Senate Chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja.

 

A bill to set up a commission for the prohibition of hate speeches has been introduced on the floor of the Senate.

The Bill which is sponsored by the former Senate spokesman, Senator Abdullahi Sabi, is listed on the order paper and has passed first reading on Tuesday.

According to the lawmakers, the object and purpose for which the Commission is established eliminate all forms of hate speeches in Nigeria, and to advise the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on all aspects thereof.

Section 4 of the Bill defines the act of Hate speech as:

(1) A person who uses, publishes, presents, produces, plays, provided, distributes and/or directs the performance of any material, written and or visual which is threatening, abusive or insulting or involves the use of threatening, abusive or insulting words or behavior commits an offence if such person intends thereby to stir up ethnic hatred, or having regard to all the circumstances, ethnic hatred is likely to be stirred up against any person or person from such an ethnic group in Nigeria.

2) Any person who commits an offence under this section shall be liable to life imprisonment and where the act causes any loss of life,  the person shall be punished with death by hanging.

READ ALSO: FG To Sanitise Social Media, Combat Fake News

Last week, the Senate passed through first reading the Protection from internet falsehood and manipulations Bill 2019.

The proposed legislation seeks to prevent the spreading and broadcasting of falsehood and manipulations using social media platforms via internet broadcasts and transmissions.

This Bill is reminiscent of the Social Media Bill which was introduced in the eight assembly but was not passed because of widespread condemnation of the bill which some Nigerians felt was intended to stifle freedom of expression.