Nigerian Senate Proposes New Law Against ‘Hate Speech’, One Week After Anti-Social Media Bill

November 12, 2019
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The Nigerian senate has reintroduced a bill seeking to establish a commission for the prohibition hate speech in the country.

The proposed legislation passed first reading in the upper legislative chamber after Nelson Ayewoh, clerk of the senate, read the short title of the bill on Tuesday.

The bill entitled, ‘National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speeches Bill 2019’ is sponsored by Sabi Abdullahi, deputy majority whip of the senate.

The lawmakers are expected to debate the details of the bill on another legislative day.

KanyiDaily recalls that just last week, the senate introduced a bill to regulate social media and prevent the spreading and broadcasting of falsehood and manipulations using social media platforms via internet broadcasts and transmissions.

The hate speech bill was first sponsored in the last assembly (2018), but the bill did not make it through to third reading.

The bill prescribed death by hanging for any person found guilty of any form of hate speech that results in the death of another person.

It seeks the establishment of an Independent National Commission for Hate Speeches. The proposed commission is expected to enforce hate speech laws in the country and ensure the “elimination” of hate speech.

For offences such as harassment on grounds of ethnicity or race, the offender shall be sentenced to “not less than a five-year jail term or a fine of not less than N10 million or both.”

The bill also proposed that, “A person who uses, 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 person from such an ethnic group in Nigeria.

“A person subjects another to harassment on the basis of ethnicity for the purposes of this section where, on ethnic grounds, he unjustifiably engages in a conduct which has the purpose or effect of (a) violating that other person’s dignity or (b) creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for the person subjected to the harassment.”

The charge would be justified if such a person intends to stir up “ethnic hatred”, it said.

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