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Nigeria Senate reintroduces hate speech prohibition bill

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The Nigerian Senate on Tuesday introduced a bill to establish an agency of the Nigerian government to regulate ‘hate speech’ uttered through different mediums in the country.

The bill christened ‘National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speeches (Estb., etc) Bill 2019’ was sponsored by the Deputy Senate Whip Sabi Abdullahi.

The bill has already passed first reading on the floor of the Senate after the introduction.

Abdullahi had first introduced a similar bill that proposed death by hanging and other deterrents for hate speech defaulters at the 8th Senate where he served as the Senate spokesman in May 2018.

The Senator said the former bill which sought the establishment of ‘Independent National Commission for Hate Speeches’ reflects the growing concern over the spate of violence in the nation.

“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,” the bill said.

Abdullahi said the establishment of the agency shall enforce hate speech laws across the country to curb hate speech.

For offences such as harassment on the grounds of ethnicity or racial contempt, a culprit shall be sentenced to not less than a five-year jail term or a fine of not less than N10 million or both.

It notes that “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.

The commission shall discourage persons, institutions, political parties and associations from advocating or promoting discrimination or discriminatory practices through the use of hate speeches but shall promote respect for religious, cultural, linguistic and other forms of diversity, promote equal access by persons of all ethnic communities and racial groups.


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