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Hate speech bill: Respect views of Nigerians, Governors tells NASS

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The Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF), has advised the National Assembly to hold a public hearing on the hate speech bill, to ensure that the views of Nigerians is well captured in the passage of the bill.

The NGF Vice Chairman and Governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal, who gave the advice while responding to questions from newsmen at the end of the forum’s meeting, which held on Wednesday night in Abuja, disclosed that no governor was in support of death penalty for hate speech.

He said: “I’m not sure I have heard any governor come out to say he is in support of death penalty for hate speech.

“I believe the National Assembly should hold a public hearing on that bill, so that due process of lawmaking is followed, so that the views of Nigerians and not just the governors will be well captured on that bill.

“They should respect the views of Nigerians in whatever may be the direction of debate and the eventual passage or otherwise of that bill.”

The Federal Government had last week said the existing Cybercrime Act (2015), is enough to handle the purveyors of hate speech on social media.

The Hate Speech bill, sponsored by Senator Sabi Abdullahi, prescribes death by hanging for violators, resulting in calls for it to be dumped by lawmakers as it hampers free speech.

However, a member of the House of Representatives, Hon. James Faleke, disagreed with the death penalty, stating that even though there was a need to curb hate speech, death penalty is taking it to the extreme.

Also speaking on other issues, Tambuwal disclosed the position of the governors on the finance bill, to increase VAT from 5% to 7.5%, that has passed second reading.

The NGF Vice Chairman said: “We are in support of that bill, we are in support of what will definitely improve on the revenue generation for federal government and states. And we are appealing to those who don’t have proper understanding of the context of those bills to kindly have a rethink and reflect on the quantum of work that is ahead of us as a country and as states.

“We need a lot of resources to turn around infrastructure, to invest in education, health, in virtually every sector of our national life. So, there is urgent need for more revenues for Nigeria. So we appeal that we should show more understanding with the federal government in that regard.”

The meeting was attended by Governors of Sokoto, Yobe, Zamfara, Kebbi, Nasarawa, Niger, Imo, Adamawa, Katsina, Plateau, Bauchi, and Kwara States.

Other States represented by Deputy Governors were Gombe, Enugu, Edo, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Oyo and Ebonyi.

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