The proposed legislation of the controversial Hate Speech Bill would be amended to remove death penalty as the maximum punishment for offenders, Senator Sabi Abdullahi confirmed on Sunday.
This development has occurred as a sign of pressure from the reaction of concerned Nigerians on Sen. Sabi, the sponsor of the Hate Speech Bill.
According to a statement made by Sen. Sabi, in Abuja, he stated that, the death (by hanging) penalty proposed for anyone found culpable of hate speech which leads to the death of another, would be amended by the Senate when the bill is subjected to legislative input by the National Assembly.
In order for the clauses contained in its provisions to reflect the views of Nigerians, the former spokesperson for the Senate said the bill would undergo some fine-tuning.
Also, for the views of Nigerians to be recognised, the Deputy Chief Whip of the Senate also stated that the Senate welcomes contributions and inputs by critics and supporters of the bill.
Speaking further, he revealed that, such contributions would go a long way towards giving Nigerians the much awaited law to address the disturbing trend of hate speech.
The Senator also argued that the concept remained a major factor behind depression and suicide in Nigeria stressing that hate speech had led to the death of many people.
In his words, Abdullahi said, “We have followed closely arguments for and against the hate speech bill, and seen the reason why some kicked against it.
“Given the high respect which we have for Nigerians, we will make amendment to the death penalty aspect that most Nigerians objected to, so that a bill that meets their expectations is passed into law.
“Clearly from the conversations, Nigerians agree that we have a problem in the society today as a result of hate speech which has fueled so many killings and violence, and is responsible for cases of depression and suicides.”
Sen. Sabi, citing a World Health Organisation report, revealed that Nigeria which is the seventh-largest country in the world, “has Africa’s highest rate of depression and ranks fifth in the world frequency of suicide.”
In his concluding words, the senator said, “The overall concern is to curb violence and unnecessary loss of lives and livelihoods of Nigerians due to hate-induced violence,”