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Hate speech bill founded on shaky foundation – Hamza Ibrahim

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The hate speech bill currently at the National Assembly was founded on a shaky note, a coordinator with the Center for Information Technology and Development (CITAD) Hamza Ibrahim has revealed.
Ibrahim who made the revelation during a one day training for journalists on hate speech and gender based violence in Yola which is funded by the National Democratic Institute (NDI) noted that lack of coordination and consultation have had stymied the passage of the bill in the past and will also affect its passage again.
He noted that such bill requires a multi-stakeholder input so as to have general acceptability and coverage noting however that the promoters of the bill felt that such consultations were not necessary which led to the heated debate it generated.
Ibrahim noted that following a multi-stakeholder approach, Germany has successfully passed the hate speech bill into law noting that with the bill in existence, the media space has been highly regulated.
If the bill is passed into law, Nigerians could face death sentence if found guilty of hate speech a move interpreted as a desperate move to curtail free speech.
The Prohibition of Hate Speech Bill was sponsored by a ruling party senator, Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi.
The bill, which was initially thrown out following a barrage of attacks, has already passed two readings in just two weeks.
 It is a very extensive piece of legislation, which covers a slew of possible wrongdoings, including the publication or presentation of material deemed to stir up ethnic hatred.
It also takes aim at written or visual acts seen as threatening, abusive, insulting or offensive.
The proposed law says any person who commits an offence of the kind described could be jailed for life.
If the actions are found to have caused loss of life, the punishment can be death by hanging.
However, there are indications that the part of the bill dealing with the death sentence could be removed, according to recent comments by Senator Abdullahi, in which he recognized strong resistance.
 ”Given the high respect which we have for Nigerians, we will make amendments to the death penalty aspect that most Nigerians objected to Clearly, from the conversations, Nigerians agree that we have a problem today as a result of hate speech which has fuelled so many killings and violence,” the senator said.

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