NBA, SANs, Atiku say hate speech bill draconian - Breaking News in Nigeria today 247 | TheWatchNGR


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Wednesday, November 13, 2019

NBA, SANs, Atiku say hate speech bill draconian

NBA, SANs, Atiku, hate speech bill draconian

The Senate has introduced a  bill which seeks to establish a  Federal Government agency to check hate speech in the country.

It also prescribed death by hanging as the  maximum punishment for certain categories of offenders.

The bill, sponsored by a former Senate spokesperson, who is now the Deputy Senate Whip, Sabi Abdullahi,  passed first reading on the floor of the red chamber on Tuesday. It is titled, “National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speech (Estb., etc) Bill 2019.

But a few hours after the bill passed the first reading, groups and individuals including former Vice-President  Atiku Abubakar, eminent lawyers and civil rights organisations,  warned that it was death sentence for  democracy in the country. They described the bill as draconian.

Abdullahi had sponsored a similar bill in the 8th Senate, but it could not survive the second reading due to overwhelming opposition and criticisms from the civil society groups and the media.

A copy of the bill obtained by one of our correspondents  shows that in the proposed law, offenders  are either liable to 10 years jail term, payment of N10m fine or death by hanging.

An offender, according to the bill is, “a person who uses, publishes, presents, produces, plays, provides, distributes and/or directs the performance of any material, written and or visual.

Such material must be capable of causing threat, abusive or insulting or involves the use of threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour.”

It stated that such individuals had committed an offence if they intended  to stir up ethnic hatred, or having regard to all the circumstances, ethnic hatred is likely to be stirred up against any person or persons from such an ethnic group in Nigeria.

“Any person who commits an offence under this section shall be liable to life imprisonment and where the act causes any loss of life,  the person shall be punished with death by hanging,” it added.

Offenders liable to a 10-year jail term or that risk N10m fine are those who stir ethnic hatred by their speeches.

The bill states, “In this section (3), ethnic hatred means hatred against a group of persons from any ethical group indigenous to Nigeria.

A person subjects another to harassment on the basis of ethnicity for the purposes of this section where on ethnic grounds, he justifiably engages in a conduct which has the purpose or effect of violating that other person’s dignity or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating, or offensive environment for the person subjected to the harassment.

“Conduct shall be regarded as having the effect specified in subsection (1) (a) or (b) of this section if, having regard to all circumstances, including in particular the perception of that  person.

“A person who subjects another to harassment on the basis of ethnicity commits an offence and shall be liable on conviction to an imprisonment for a term not less than 10 years, or to a fine of not less than N10m, or to both.
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