The Nigerian Senate has cleared the air on the controversy surrounding the National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speeches (Estb., etc) Bill 2019.
The bill, which was on Tuesday, November 12, 2019, read for the first time on the floor of the senate, has attracted wild reactions from political stakeholders, and the Nigerian populace at large.
Former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar, cautioned the lawmakers against moves to pass the bill, which sought to criminalise purported hate speech offenders.
Addressing the controversies that greeted the bill at the time it was first read on the floor of the red chamber, the acting spokesperson for the Senate, Senator Godiya Akwashiki, said the bill was not the idea of the 9th Senate.
According to Akwashiki, the bill was solely sponsored by the Deputy Chief Whip, Sabi Abdullahi, based on his personal conviction.
Referring to a statement credited to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), 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, Akwashiki maintained that “the hate speech bill before the Senate is a private senator bill, not an executive bill.”
Akwashiki maintained that the fate of the bill, which seeks death by hanging for anyone found guilty of any form of hate speech that results in the death of another person, would be determined on the floor of the Senate after a robust debate by senators.
“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,” Akwashiki added.
The emergence of the bill at the Senate followed a statement by the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, that the online media space in Nigeria will soon be regulated.