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Senate introduces bill to prohibit hate speeches in Nigeria

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THE ninth Assembly of the Senate on Tuesday introduced a bill to prohibit the spread of hate speeches in the country.

The bill, titled “National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speeches (Estb., etc) Bill 2019” was sponsored by the Deputy Senate Whip, Sabu Abdullahi and has passed the first reading on the floor of the Senate.

The hate speech bill was first sponsored by Abdullahi at the 8th Assembly, where he was the Senate Spokesperson. The bill, however, never scaled through to the third reading.

According to Abdullahi, the bill prescribed death by hanging as a penalty for deviants, if enacted into law. The same was prescribed as a penalty at the 8th Assembly.

Hate speech bill comes exactly a week after another bill to regulate the use of social media was proposed. The latter passed the first reading on November 6 on the floor of the Senate.

Titled: ‘Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulations Bill, 2019’, the bill sponsored by Mohammed Sani Musa, was aimed at curbing fake news on the internet.

The bill also prescribes: “If anyone is caught with this kind of situation, you cough out between N150,000 to a maximum imprisonment of three years or both. And if it is a corporate organisation that refused to block that false information despite the fact that they have been alerted by authorities not to disseminate that information for public interest and they still go-ahead to do it, refusing to do that blockage will be penalised between N5 million to N10 million for those organisations.

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“For example, MTN, Glo, 9 mobile, etc. which we use their platform in transmitting this information, if nothing is done, we fine them and you will see that it will be a deterrence to others,” Musa said.

The bill was however greeted with reactions from the Nigeria Guild of Editors, calling on the federal government to repeal its decision to regulate social media.

According to NGE, the plan to regulate the use of social media would impede on the civil rights of Nigerians to their freedom of expression and rights to hold opinions as convened in section 39 of the 1999 constitution as amended.

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