OrderPaperToday– Senator Sabi Abdullahi, sponsor of the Hate Speech Bill, has disclosed that in response to public outcry, the proposed death by hanging penalty in the bill will be amended.
The introduction of the bill has generated so much controversy, particularly the penalty which prescribes death by hanging on one whose hate speech causes death to another.
In a statement signed by Senator Abdullahi on Sunday, he said a review into the penalty follows the public backlash which will be respected.
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 fueled so many killings and violence, and is responsible for cases of depression and suicides.”
Abdullahi cited a World Health Organisation report which states that Nigeria, the seventh-largest country in the world, “has Africa’s highest rate of depression and ranks fifth in the world frequency of suicide.”
The lawmaker further 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 victimisation.
To protect the independence of the commission, he stated that members of the National Assembly or any government in authority at the local, state or federal level, party members are unqualified to be appointed as members of the commission.
“The overall concern is to curb violence and unnecessary loss of lives and livelihoods of Nigerians due to hate-induced violence,” Abdullahi added.
He recalled that the Catholic Bishop of Sokoto, Matthew Kukah, in July this year warned against ethnic and religious demonisation, noting that such actions could trigger violent confrontation amongst Nigerians.
“Hate speech often precedes any genocide experienced in history”, Kukah said.