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Surprise as senate disowns sponsor of Hate Speech Bill

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Ahmad Lawan

It was like a movie scene when the Senate disowned the sponsor of a bill seeking death by hanging among other penalties for offenders of Hate speeches in the country, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi (APC Kano North), following huge public outcry against the proposed law after it passed first reading in the upper legislative chamber.

Christened “Bill for the establishment of National Commission for Prohibition of Hate Speeches”, the Senate said like other ones, the bill will be subjected to laid down legislative processes in determining its acceptability or otherwise in terms of consideration or rejection at the stages of second or third reading.

Reacting to the backlash that has been trailing the bill from the media and the general public since Tuesday, when it was passed for first reading, the new spokesman of the Senate, Senator Godiya Akwashiki (APC Nasarawa North), said it was too early to attach the bill to the Senate since it has not been debated for second reading .

Akwashiki, who made the clarification at an interactive session with journalists covering the Senate, said: “We have a process of enacting a law or an act in the National Assembly or in the state Assembly.

“The process starts with the First reading, when the Leader of the Senate will read it for the first time.
The Second reading is taken after the bill has been subjected to debate on the floor of the Senate.

“Once a bill scale second reading, it has to go to the committee and would return to the house again.
If it is a bill that will represent the wishes and interest of Nigerians, it will scale second reading. If it is a bill that will create hardship for the people of Nigeria and crisis, it will be killed on the floor of the Senate by senators when it comes for second reading.

“I want to urge Nigerians to exercise patience with me Senate because it is not wise for me nor legally right for me to discuss a bill that has not been mentioned for the second time on the floor of the Senate.

“When the bill comes for second reading, then you will know where it is heading or what the Senate intends to do. I want to assure you that even if the bill scale second reading on the floor of the Senate and the public moves against it , it will not survive because we are working for the progress and betterment of Nigerians.”

It would be recalled that the upper legislative chamber was last year forced to drop its first attempt to enact the law following massive public outcry that ensued after it was widely reported in the media, particularly the aspect of death penalty for the hate speech offenders.

Efforts to get reaction of the bill sponsor on the wide condemnation trailing the proposed legislation and the position of the Senate, proved abortive as he refused to comment when called on telephone.

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