Atiku, NBA reject N’ASS hate speech bill

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Former Vice President and Chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Atiku Abubakar have kicked against a bill before the Senate seeking to regulate hate speech and punish offenders.

The bill sponsored by the Senator representing Niger North, Aliyu Sabi passed first reading during Tuesday’s plenary at the upper chamber of the National Assembly.

It is seeking the establishment of a National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speeches.

Reacting to the development in a statement released on Tuesday, Atiku stated that the bill violates Nigerians’ constitutionally guaranteed right to Freedom of Speech.

In the statement, “Atiku urges those behind this Bill to awake to the fact that Nigeria’s democracy has survived its longest incarnation, because those who governed this great nation between 1999 and 2015 never toyed with this most fundamental of freedoms. It is prudent to build upon the tolerance inherited from those years and not shrink the democratic space to satisfy personal and group interests.”

He further stressed that “Freedom of Speech was not just bestowed to Nigerians by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), it is also a divine right given to all men by their Creator. History is littered with the very negative unintended consequences that result when this God given right is obstructed by those who seek to intimidate the people rather than accommodate them.

The proposed bill has also been rejected by the Nigeria Bar Association, NBA.

The association, in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Kunle Edun, cautioned the Senate to “tread carefully” with the bill, stressing that it could not be justified in a democracy.

According to the proposed bill, offenders are either liable to 10 years jail term, payment of N10m fine or death by hanging.

The Eight Senate had tried to pass the same bill in 2017 without success.




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