National Assembly Still Working On Hate Speech Bill, Says Sponsor

The sponsor of the controversial Hate Speech Bill, Senator Abdullahi Sabi, has said the proposed legislation is alive and will continue its journey at the National Assembly.

However, Sabi, who is the Deputy Senate Majority Whip, clarified on Tuesday that the death penalty provision in the bill would be removed.

He said he would propose an amendment to the bill since it would be wrong to jettison the entire bill because of  the death penalty.

Sabi argued that Nigeria needed the bill to help nip potential crises in the bud.

The senator spoke with State House Correspondents in Abuja after he joined a delegation of Eminent Citizens of Niger State to meet with the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), at the Presidential Villa.

Defending the bill, he said, “Because the baby is dirty, we can’t say the baby should be thrown away with the bathwater.

“The death penalty was the main issue. I will ensure that the death penalty is put away from the bill.

“But Nigeria deserves to have a hate speech bill. There is so much hate speech in Nigeria. “

According to him, if there is no law to regulate hate speech in the country, Nigeria runs the risk of becoming the next Rwanda.

Sabi said there were a lot of inciting speeches being made in Nigeria capable of igniting religious, ethnic or communal crises.

He added that “80-90 per cent” of crises were “incited through hate speech, be they religious, ethnic or communal crises”.

The lawmaker claimed that after the uproar generated by the bill last year, more Nigerians had come to terms with his position that the bill was relevant.

Sabi expressed hope that in the days ahead, the bill would receive more support to scale passage by the National Assembly.

The bill passed first reading on the floor of the Senate on November 12, 2019 amid controversies.

The Punch

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