Nigerian Senate disowns hate speech bill, as sponsor gets threat messages

Worried by the spate of criticisms that has greeted the Hate Speech Bill which passed first reading last week,  the Senate has distanced itself from the proposed legislation

The  acting spokesperson for the red chamber,  Senator Godiya Akwashiki, told journalists in Abuja on Monday that contrary to widespread impression, the bill was not the idea of the 9th Senate.

He said it was solely being sponsored by the Deputy Chief Whip, Sabi Abdullahi, based on his conviction.

Akwashiki described as unfortunate the statement credited to the Peoples Democratic Party, which insinuated that the bill was a Senate bill, either to islamise Nigeria or skewed to make the alleged third term ambition of President Muhammadu Buhari, a reality

He maintained that the fate of the bill would be determined on the floor of the Senate after a robust debate by senators.

Akwashiki said, “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 the right of a senator to sponsor a private member bill. We also have the executive bill but the hate speech bill before the Senate today is a private senator bill.  Mr President has nothing to do with it and it also has nothing to do with third term agenda.

“It is not also aimed at islamise Nigeria. When the bill gets to second reading, senators would have the opportunity to speak. They would scrutinise 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 ex-spokesperson for the Senate who sponsored the bill, Senator Sabi insisted at a news briefing on Monday in Abuja that his proposed legislation was aimed at achieving peace in the country.

He denied being used by the executive arm of government to actualise or pave the way for the third term agenda of the President.

The senator also claims he has been receiving threatening messages after the first reading of the bill.

He, however, said he is not a coward and will not back down from his decision to push for the law.

The National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speech Bill was reintroduced in the Senate on November 12.

It prescribes the death penalty for anyone found guilty of spreading falsehood that leads to the death of another person.

 

 

 

– Punch

About Delia Innoma

Delia Innoma is a prolific writer, promoter, artist manager with full professional proficiency in English, German and Igbo languages. She studied accounting and computer programming at the Institute of Management and Technology Enugu and Germany respectively. Delia is also a devoted mother of two and she founded the Diamond Celebrities Magazine. Her sense of responsibility and commitment to the Christian faith are essential forces driving her daily activities.

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