The Federal Government faulted the proposed legislation in the National Assembly seeking death penalty for persons found guilty of hate speech.
Specifically, the bill entitled ‘The National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speech’, sponsored by the deputy chief whip, Aliyu Abdullahi, was introduced on the floor of the Senate on Tuesday.
But the Federal Government yesterday argued that the bill amounted to jumping the gun, as there were already a Cybercrime Act, which adequately dealt with the alleged misdemeanour.
Fielding questions from State House correspondents after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Minister of State for Transportation, Senator Gbemisola Saraki, said: “The sponsor of the bill might have put the death penalty there. I think we are jumping the gun a bit. Like you said, he is proposing the bill is not yet an act.
“Be that as it may, I think there is a law already in Nigeria that has the hate speech aspect in it. So hate speech is within that cybercrime aspect.”
Meanwhile, the Senate yesterday allayed the fears of Nigerians that the Hate Speech Bill still had a long way to go in the process of becoming a law.
The upper chamber assured that it would not allow any legislation that would bring hardship or cause crisis for the people to be passed into law.
Public outcry had followed the re-introduction of the bill that imposes death penalty on hate speech offenders.
Deputy Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Godiya Akwashiki (Nasarawa North), while responding to questions from reporters in Abuja, said: “We have a process of enacting a law or an Act, either in the House of Assembly or the National Assembly and the process is one saying bill is just a proposal before the National Assembly.
“It has to go through three of four processes. Process number one is for the bill to undergo first reading, whereby the leader of the house would just mention it for first reading in the house.
“The second process that follows is the second reading during which the bill has to be subjected to debate by senators.”
According to him, once that bill scales second reading, it has to go to the committee then come back to the house again.
“So if it is a bill that will represent the wishes and interests of the people, it would scale second reading. If it is a bill that would create hardship or bring crisis for the people, I want to assure that other senators will kill it on the floor of the Senate when it comes for second reading.
“So 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.”