The sponsor of the controversial Hate Speech Bill, Senator Sabi Abdullahi, on Sunday, November 24; revealed the death penalty clause in the bill would be amended.
Abdullahi stated he came to this decision; after a nationwide appeal from various sections of the citizenry.
The clause within the Hate Speech Bill had proposed death (by hanging) penalty proposed; for anyone found culpable of hate speech which leads to the death of another.
However, the senator explained the amendment is subjected to legislative input by the National Assembly.
He further revealed the Hate Speech Bill will undergo serious scrutiny; in a bid to ensure that the clauses contained in its provisions to be passed into law, reflect the views of Nigerians.
Abdulahi added that the Senate welcomes contributions and inputs by critics and supporters of the bill.
He, however, insisted that hate speech had led to the death of many people; and argued that the concept remained a major factor behind depression and suicide in Nigeria.
Abdullahi said, “We have followed closely arguments for and against the hate speech bill; and seen the reason why some kicked against it.
“Given the high respect which we have for Nigerians; we will make an amendment to the death penalty aspect that most Nigerians objected to; so that a bill that meets their expectations is passed into law.
“Clearly from the conversations; Nigerians agree that we have a problem in society today as a result of hate speech. This has fueled so many killings and violence, and is responsible for cases of depression and suicides.”
The Senator also explained that the Independent National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speech to be established; would guard against every act of discrimination against Nigerians by way of victimisation.
He stated the proposed commission would have an executive chairperson; a secretary and 12 commissioners appointed through a rigorous process involving the National Council of State; the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the National Assembly.
He said, “In order to protect the independence of the commission; the bill provides that those qualified to be appointed as members of the commission must not be members of the National Assembly; or any government in authority at the local, state or federal levels.”