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Senate dissociates itself from hate speech bill, says it was solely sponsored

Senate dissociates itself from hate speech bill, says it was solely sponsored

Doris Ukaonu
Senate dissociates itself from hate speech bill, says it was solely sponsored

Due to several backlashes on the Senate, it has announced that it will no longer proceed with the Hate Speech Bill which passed first reading last week.

Speaking concerning the halt on the bill, acting spokesperson for the red chamber, Senator Godiya Akwashiki, told newsmen yesterday (November 18) in Abuja that the bill was not in line with the directive of the 9th Senate.

According to him, it was single-handedly sponsored by the Deputy Chief Whip, Sabi Abdullahi.

The bill which got the goat of many Nigerians had proposed a death penalty for anyone found guilty of Hate Speech. 

The opposing People’s Democratic Party (PDP) had criticized the bill opinionating that it intended to Islamise Nigeria and in the long run create room for a third term tenure for President Muhammadu Buhari.

Akwashiki in addressing the bill countered the PDP’s opinion saying “There is a statement credited to the spokesperson for the Peoples Democratic Party saying that the hate speech bill before us is a collaboration between the Senate and President Muhammadu Buhari to Islamise the country or make things happen the way he (Buhari) wants it.

“It (the statement) also claims that he (Buhari) is trying to bring the hate speech to enable him to achieve a third term. I’m happy that the sponsor of the bill is here. He has cleared the air.

“It is also not aimed at Islamising Nigeria. When the bill gets to the second reading, senators would have the opportunity to speak. They would scrutinize it and remove whatever they perceive offensive and insert those that are meant to protect the interest of Nigerians.

“I want to make it clear once again that the hate speech bill before the Senate is a private senator bill, not an executive bill.”

Meanwhile, the sponsor of the bill Senator Sabi said at the news briefing that the bill was intended to achieve peace in the country.

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Senate dissociates itself from hate speech bill, says it was solely sponsored

He also debunked the idea that it was a decoy to pave way for a third term agenda of the President.

“The assumption by some people who think the bill is a ploy to give the current president a third term is laughable and it is a shame on those holding such views because I don’t see how that is related.

“If anything, I have seen studies conducted where the issues of violence were cataloged, particularly electoral violence and hate speech featured prominently as a major cause.

“This clearly shows that if we allow hate speech to fester, it means we won’t get good governance and it would also be difficult to fight corruption.”

Speaking of the death penalty, Abdullahi said it will be based on the judge’s verdict. “As far as the issue of death by hanging is concerned, which the constitution in section 33 spelled out,  it must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt”, he said.

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