Bill To Punish Hate Speech Passes First Reading

Hate Speech

Following the highly controversial Social media bill and the more celebrated sexual harassment Bill, the Nigerian Senate seeks to establish the Hate speech bill.

The Bill will seek to criminalise hate speech and at the moment, it has passed its first reading.

According to reports, this bill, “National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speeches Bill 2019,” was sponsored by the Deputy Majority Whip of the Senate, Sabi Abdullahi.

There aren’t many details of what the bill will entail and what it would define hate speech as, but we have a bit of a clue as to what it might be.

An old bill which was sponsored but ended up not being passed defined hate speech as when: A person publishes, presents, produces, plays, provides, distributes and/or directs the performance of any material, written and/or visual, which is threatening, abusive or insulting or involves the use of threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, commits an offence if such person intends thereby to stir up ethnic hatred, or having regard to all the circumstances, ethnic hatred is likely to be stirred up against any person or persons from such an ethnic group in Nigeria. 

With the disposition of lawmakers in the country, it is unlikely this bill will cover sexual orientation or certain religious beliefs.

The bill has been slammed by many Nigerians who feel like there are more pertinent things plaguing the nation at the moment.

One of the most vocal critics was Dr. Joe Abah who was reacting to the news of the bill enacting an agency to check hate speech. he said: “An agency for hate speech? Who will pay for the agency? Is this what our Senate is spending its time on? I must get my own agency o: National Agency for Ezemmuo Affairs.”

The bill also had other critics who feel it would be redundant and unhelpful in the long run.

We’ll see how far this bill goes and whether it would make it into law.

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