Senate Speaks On Hate Speech Saga
The Senate has told Nigerians it has no intention to bring any form of hardship on citizens of the country through the hate speech bill.
It will be recalled that the hate speech bill, which was ‘killed’ by the eighth National Assembly has now been re-introduced on Tuesday by the ninth National Assembly.
However, the reaction and backlash generated by the re-introduction of the bill has overshadowed any form of good the bill might have, with many Nigerians expressing fears the bill is actually an attempt by the government to clamp down on the freedom of speech of citizens as well as gag both the media and the social media.
Reacting to the negative reactions that have greeted the reintroduction of the bill, Godiya Akwashiki, vice-chairman of the senate committee on media, has explained while addressing journalists in Abuja on Wednesday that the lawmakers will not approve the bill if it is discovered that it will have a negative impact on Nigerians.
Akwashiki, said though the bill has scaled first reading at the senate, if at any point in time, it is discovered that the bill will ‘create hardship, or bring crisis for the people of Nigeria,’ it will be killed by the Senators.
“If it is a bill that will represent the wishes and interests, it would scale second reading. (But) if it is a bill that would create hardship, or bring crisis for the people of Nigeria, I want to assure that it will be killed on the floor of the Senate by other senators when it comes for second reading,” he said.
“Yes, it has not been mentioned for the second time on the floor of the senate; even if it scales second reading, it will protect your interests and give immunity without fear or favour. I want to assure you.”
He, however, appealed to Nigerians to be patient and allow the bill go through the normal legislative process.
“I want to urge Nigerians to exercise patience with the senate because it is not wise or legally right for me to discuss a bill that has not been mentioned for the second time on the floor of the senate,” he said.
“It is just like you are trying to discuss somebody’s sickness when you have not approached a doctor. I want to urge you to be patient, when the Bill comes for second then you will know where the bill is heading.”