If the recent bill by the Nigerian Senate is passed into law, all hate speech offenders shall die by hanging upon conviction.
Mover of the bill, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, told lawmakers at plenary on Wednesday, February 28, 2018, that the legislation was as a result of the growing concerns over the spate of violence and hate speeches in the country.
The bill also seeks to establish an ‘Independent National Commission for Hate Speeches’, saddled with the responsibility of enforcing hate speech laws across the country, eliminating the menace and advising the federal government.
“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,” the bill stipulates.
“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.
“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.
“Conduct shall be regarded as having the effect specified in subsection (1) (a) or (b) of this section if, having regard to all the circumstances, including in particular the perception of that other person, it should reasonably be considered as having that effect.”The National Commission for Hate Speeches shall be headed by an executive chairperson who would be appointed by the president on recommendation of the National Council of State, subject to the confirmation of at least two-third majority of the National Assembly.”
The commission shall discourage persons, institutions, political parties and associations from advocating or promoting discrimination or discriminatory practices through the use of hate speeches; promote tolerance, understanding and acceptance of diversity in all aspects of national life and encourage full participation by all ethnic communities in the social, economic, cultural and political life of other communities.
It shall also plan, supervise, coordinate and promote educational and training programmes to create public awareness, support and advancement of peace and harmony among ethnic communities and racial groups.
It shall furthermore promote respect for religious, cultural, linguistic and other forms of diversity in a plural society; promote equal access by persons of all ethnic communities and racial groups to public or other services and facilities provided by the government.
Hate Speech an act of terrorism
The federal government says hate speech will henceforth be considered as an act of terrorism.
Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, gave this indication during his speech at the 2nd National Conference of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) in Kano on Tuesday, February 20, 2018.
He also directed the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to sanction any media station found allowing its airwave to be used for such activities.
Lai mohammed said the media must understand that they are responsibility for moulding public opinions and preserving national unity.