January 28, 2020

Hate speech bill won’t have death penalty – Senator Abdullahi

Hate speech, Senate, Nigeria

By Johnbosco Agbakwuru

SPONSOR of the National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speech (Establishment) Bill 2019 and Senate Deputy Chief Whip, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, has assured that the death penalty will now be expunged from it.

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

When introduced, the bill had prescribed that any person who commits this offence shall be liable to life imprisonment and where the act causes any loss of life, the person shall be punished with death by hanging.

Speaking to State House correspondents on the sidelines of the courtesy visit by the Niger State Eminent Citizens on President Muhammadu Buhari, Senator Abdulahi said a robust engagement was going on in respect of the bill and a decision has been made to remove the contentious death penalty provision.

He however insisted that despite the outcry over the bill, he would continue to press on with its passage as there was no need to “throw away the baby with the bath water.”

According to him, “I think what I want to say first and foremost is that because the baby is dirty or the water is dirty should not lead to a situation where we take the baby and the bad water and throw away.

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” I believe the hate speech bill which I am sponsoring, the most contentious issue that drew people’s concern was the death penalty and I recall vividly at that particular instance I issued a statement that as a sponsor of the bill at the appropriate time, I will ensure that the death penalty is put away such that no matter what the punitive measure is, we can all agree on what it should be.

“But whether we desire a hate speech bill, my answer is capital yes. And my reasons are not far fetched. That particular bill is designed to address at least something that is fundamental and has been going on for the past 40,50 years in this country.

“And it is assuming a new dimension that if we don’t control, we don’t want to have something like it happened in Rwanda for example. I think the essence of the bill is to prevent discrimination such that it leads to hostility and even death in some instances as it has happened.”