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Nigerians fume as Senate considers Hate Speech, Internet Falsehood laws

Nigerians fume as Senate considers Hate Speech, Internet Falsehood laws

Nigeria

Nigerian lawmakers are considering a law to combat hate speech in Africa’s most populous nation. The move has however attracted stern criticism.

The proposed law seeks to establish a National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speech. The bill has since passed the first reading in the upper chamber of parliament, the Senate.

It makes a return to the chamber after the last Senate failed to have it passed in 2017. The then Senate president blocked the bill following backlash from the bill.

It is sponsored by the Senate’s Deputy Chief Whip, Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi. According to reports, the lawmaker had proposed death penalty for persons found guilty of Hate Speech.

Media outlets also report that details of the bill are yet to be made public but that the death penalty provision seems to have been maintained.

Nigeria becomes the second African nation to move to combat hate speech in under a week. Ethiopia’s cabinet approved a similar legislation and referred it to lawmakers for final ratification.

During his 59th Independence Day address in October 2019, President Buhari cautioned against hate speech whiles tasking citizens with tolerance of different view points.

‘‘I reiterate my call for all to exercise restraint, tolerance and mutual respect in airing their grievances and frustrations,’‘ he stressed.

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