Deputy Chief Whip of the Senate, Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, on Monday said that the proposed controversial Hate Speech Bill recently introduced by the Senate was not meant to pave way for President Muhammadu Buhari’s alleged third term agenda.
Abdullahi who spoke at a press conference in Abuja said the Bill is meant to check what he described as an abuse of the nation’s “faultiness of ethnicity and religion” to cause the crisis. He vowed to go ahead with the Bill because it is in line with his constitutional responsibility as a lawmaker to initiate and make legislation for the order and good governance of the country.
“For those who think their ludicrous assessment that the Hate Speech Bill is meant to give the current President Muhammadu Buhari a third term, it is not true,” Abdullahi said.
Also, Monday, the Acting spokesman of the Senate, Senator Godiya Akwashiki, described the Hate Speech Bill as a private member Bill which will be subjected to thorough scrutiny by the Senate in plenary during a second reading. Abdullahi lamented that many Nigerians who have decried the Bill merely “jumped the gun” by reaching conclusions before reading the Bill.
“For those shouting and using words that by every definition are Hate Speech, let them be guided,” he said.
“People said that the Bill is to prevent free speech. This is far from the truth. Very soon I will lead the debate for the Bill to be read a second time on the floor of the Senate,” Abdullahi added. He said that in the last 10 days since the Bill scaled first reading in the Senate, he had received a lot of reactions from Nigerians including outright “threats” to his life.
“If you have never been a victim or your loved one has never been a victim of hate speech, then you have the luxury to talk the way you like.
“Many people have turned me into a monster and others have demonized me as the sponsor of the Hate Speech Bill but I am not moved.
“In the course of my research on this matter, I discovered that Hate Speech has been used to silence so many people in this country.
“A country like Kenya has understood the dynamics of Hate Speech and they have taken action.
“I believe that this Bill is necessary and I am doing my duty as a lawmaker. I know I have tried my best.
“If tomorrow there is Hate Speech and there is violence, then I would have done my part,” Abdullahi said. On his part, Akwashiki said there is nothing to fear about the proposed Hate Speech Bill.
“There is nothing for Nigerians to be afraid of. There is a process in the art of lawmaking. The Bill will go for second reading where members will call for the removal of what they consider not right or for the addition of what they think should be there.
“Some people have made it political. I want to urge the press to educate the public about Hate Speech Bill,” Senator Akwashiki said.