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Senate deliberates on hate speech, may approve death penalty

Valentine Chinyem

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A bill seeking to establish a commission for the prohibition of hate speech in Nigeria, yesterday, passed first reading.

Nelson Ayewoh, clerk of the senate, read the short title of the bill on Tuesday.

The bill entitled, ‘National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speeches Bill 2019’ is sponsored by Sabi Abdullahi, deputy majority whip of the senate.

This is coming after the senate introduced a bill to regulate social media, last week.

It would also be recalled that the 8th Assembly also sought to introduce the bill, by proposing death by hanging for offenders, whose speech may be the cause of another person’s death.

However the bill failed to pass third reading.

It said a crime is committed when: “A person publishes, presents, produces, plays, provides, distributes and/or directs the performance of any material, written and/or visual, which is threatening, abusive or insulting or involves the use of threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, commits an offence if such person intends thereby 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.

“A person subjects another to harassment on the basis of ethnicity for the purposes of this section where, on ethnic grounds, he unjustifiably engages in a conduct which has the purpose or effect of (a) violating that other person’s dignity or (b) creating 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 the circumstances, including in particular the perception of that other person, it should reasonably be considered as having that effect.”

The 9th senate did not make it clear if the new bill is a revision of the old one, proposed by the former assembly.