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Hate speech bill: Death penalty will be amended — Senator Adbullahi

The death penalty aspect of the controversial bill, which seeks to criminalise hate speech in the country, will be amended, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, has…

The death penalty aspect of the controversial bill, which seeks to criminalise hate speech in the country, will be amended, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, has said.

Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, who is the Deputy Chief Whip of the Senate, said this yesterday.

The controversial bill proposed death penalty for anyone found culpable of hate speech that leads to death of another.

The death penalty aspect of the bill has been attracting condemnation from many Nigerians in the last few weeks.

But the Senator who is also the sponsor of the bill said in a statement on Sunday that the upper legislative arm will amend the bill to expunge the death penalty aspect in order to respect Nigerians’ wishes.

He said the bill will be amended by the Senate when it is subjected to legislative input by the National Assembly.

Abdullahi said the bill will undergo some fine-tuning to ensure that the clauses contained in its provisions to be passed into law reflect the views of Nigerians.

He added that the Senate welcomes contributions and inputs by critics and supporters of the bill, as these would go a long way towards giving Nigerians the much awaited law to address the disturbing trend of hate speech.

Hate speech has led to the death of many Nigerians and is a major factor behind depression and suicide in Nigeria, the Senator said.

Abdullahi said: “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 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 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.

In order to protect the independence of the commission, he stated that the bill provides that those qualified to be appointed as members of the commission must not be: members of the National Assembly or any government in authority at the Local, State or Federal Levels.

The lawmaker added that any person, who is a member of any political party or known to be affiliated with partisan politics, or has promoted sectional, ethnic, religious causes or openly advocated partisan ethnic positions or interest, stands disqualified from being appointed to serve on the commission.