Nigerian Senate reintroduces ‘hate speech’ bill

The Senate on Tuesday once again took the first step to curb the incidence of hate speech in the country.

This followed the first reading of a Bill to set up an agency to prohibit hate speeches.

The Bill titled: “National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speeches (Establishment, etc) Bill, 2019” is being sponsored by the Deputy Chief Whip of the Senate who is also the Senator representing Niger North, Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi.

It could be recalled that the Senate had last week introduced legislation to regulate the social media and also to punish what it termed “abuse of social media” with a three-year jail term with N150,000 option of fine or both.

The social media regulation Bill titled: “Protection from internet falsehood and manipulations bill, 2019” was sponsored by the Senator representing Niger East, Mohammed Sani Musa.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, recently vowed that the Federal Government is poised to regulate the Social Media.

It could be recalled that Senator Abdullahi had introduced the same Hate Speech Bill during the Eight Senate but it never returned for second reading following national uproar about the severeness of punishments proposed.

The Bill had prescribed death by hanging for any person found guilty of any form of hate speech that results in the death of another person.

It also sought the establishment of an Independent National Commission for Hate Speeches.

The Bill as presented to the Eight Senate had proposed that the commission would enforce hate speech laws across the country, and ensure the “elimination” of hate speech.

For offences such as harassment on grounds of ethnicity or race, the Bill had proposed that the offender shall be sentenced to “not less than a five-year jail term or a fine of not less than N10 million or both.”

The Bill had also proposed that, “A person who uses, publishes, presents, produces, plays, provides, 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” committed an offence.

It added that the charge would be justified if such a person intends to stir up “ethnic hatred”.

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