BEVERLY HILLS, November 24, (THEWILL) – Aliyu Abdullahi, sponsor of the bill seeking to check hate speech, has revealed the death penalty aspect will be amended in line with the wish of Nigerians.
In a statement issued in Abuja on Sunday, Abdullahi said the bill will undergo some fine-tuning to reflect the views of Nigerians adding that the senate will accept contributions and input by critics and supporters of the bill.
Section 4 (2) of the bill provides that any person found guilty of hate speech shall be liable to life imprisonment and where the act causes any loss of life, the person shall be punished through death by hanging.
Civil society groups and human rights activists have rejected the bill, describing it as an attempt to suppress the people and stifle freedom of speech.
But Abdullahi said hate speech has led to the death of many and is a major factor behind depression and suicide in Nigeria.
“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 amendment to the death penalty aspect that most Nigerians objected to, so that a bill that meets their expectations is passed into law,” he said.
“Clearly from the conversations, Nigerians agree that we have a problem in the society today as a result of hate speech which has fueled so many killings and violence, and is responsible for cases of depression and suicides.”
Citing a World Health Organisation report, Abdullahi said Nigeria which is the seventh-largest country in the world “has Africa’s highest rate of depression and ranks fifth in the world frequency of suicide.
“The overall concern is to curb violence and unnecessary loss of lives and livelihoods of Nigerians due to hate-induced violence,” Abdullahi said.