The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, on Monday, said the controversial hate speech bill currently before lawmakers would not be passed into law if a majority of Nigerians oppose it.
Mr Lawan, while addressing journalists in Abuja, also said “the hate speech bill is not going to be passed without the desired public hearing.”
The National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speech Bill was reintroduced in the Senate on November 12.
It prescribes death penalty for anyone found guilty of spreading a falsehood “that leads to the death of another person”.
PREMIUM TIMES reported the full provisions of the bill.
A similar bill was introduced to the Senate on March 2018 for consideration and passage. It, however, did not make it through to third reading.
The reintroduction of the bill has generated controversy among Nigerians.
The bill has been criticised by many Nigerians who say it is meant to clampdown on free speech and silence critical voices.
Meanwhile, Mr Lawan urged Nigerians to exercise their rights in speaking for or against it.
“If you feel the hate speech bill should not pass,” Mr Lawan said, “get people to attend the public hearing and make your case.”
“The preponderance of opinion of Nigerians will determine the way the hate speech bill will go,” he added.
He said the opinion of Nigerians “will determine the way the hate speech or any other bill goes on the National Assembly.”
Already, the senator who re-introduced the bill, Sabi Abdullahi, claims he has been receiving threatening messages after the first reading of the bill.
He, however, said “he is not a coward and will not back down from his decision to push for such a law.”
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