Soyinka hits lawmakers over bill proposing death penalty for hate speech

Nobel laureate, Wole Soyinka, has criticised a bill recently introduced to the floor of the Senate, which seeks to impose the death penalty on anyone found guilty of hate speech.

Speaking at a function in Lagos on Thursday, Soyinka said its saddening that when developed countries are doing away with capital punishment, Nigerian lawmakers are calling for it.

“Life has become so trite, so cheap, that a group of supposedly rational, intelligent people in this world, especially a world that is trying to get rid of its degrading punishment called capital punishment, and they come and decree hanging?” Soyinka said.

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“No, they are not going to hang anybody. They just want an instrument to silence people. It is ironic of course that I should call Nigerians to resist this law.”

Soyinka also expressed disappointment over President Muhammadu Buhari’s handling of the security challenges in the country, saying that the President must do more than sympathising with victims — and find lasting solutions to the myriads of clashes.

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“I get impatient when I hear things like Buhari has failed to go and sympathise with the people of Benue, with the people of Nassarawa, with the people of Dapchi or wherever. Who needs sympathy?” he said.

“Is it sympathy that will reorder their broken lives? Is sympathy the issue? We are speaking here of one commodity that is fundamentally human deserving, justice.

“There should be an internal measure to avoid repeat. We are speaking here of a President that will respond with massive action and not showing up at the arena of human desecration to shed any unjust tears, but give orders that the bloodthirsty terrorists are brought to book.”

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The event was attended by notable personalities, including Peter Obi, former Governor of Anambra State; Pat Utomi, and Reuben Abati, ex-President Goodluck Jonathan’s spokesman.

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