Journalism of Courage

Hate Speech: Nigerian Senate reintroduces death penalty bill



Barely a week after the Nigerian Senate reintroduced a bill on social media regulation, the country’s Upper Chamber has resurrected another bill on hate speech with death penalty as punishment for offenders.


President Muhammadu Buhari had in October threatened to take a “firm and decisive action” against promoters of hate speech and other divisive materials on the Internet.


On Tuesday at plenary, 12 bills including the National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speech Bill, sponsored by the Deputy Chief Whip, Alhaji Aliyu Abdullahi, were introduced.


Although the hate speech bill was not debated on Tuesday, it is expected that the details of the bill will be debated at another sitting of Senate.


Abdullahi had in March 2018 introduced the bill for consideration and passage but it did not scale the third reading.


According to him, the various religious and ethnic violence experienced in the past years in Nigeria informed his decision to sponsor the bill.

The bill prescribes death by hanging for convicted offenders of hate speech which results in the death of another person.

Also, the bill 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 eliminate 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 among others states:“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.”

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