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FG disowns proposed death penalty on hate speech

The controversy trailing the new Bill on “ Hate Speech” at the National Assembly may not have federal government backing as it distanced itself on Wednesday from the proposed death penalty being prescribed

There were reports that the Bill which has crossed the first reading at the Senate, is seeking death penalty for hate speech.

But the Minister of State for Transportation, Gbemi Saraki, while responding to questions on the Bill, stated that Nigerians should have nothing to fear, adding that the Bill “was a mere proposal”

Gbemi Saraki had earlier disclosed the FEC had approved a memo for the construction of the Bonny jetty at the cost of N1.7b.

The jetty which had been abandoned due to its dilapidated state will now be reconstructed and put to use, according to the Minister

Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, had been asked to give the government’s perspective on the bill sponsored by former Senate spokesman, Abdulahi Sabi, while briefing State House correspondents after a meeting of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo,

She said that the fact that the bill is prescribing death penalty does not mean it will necessarily pass like that

In any case, she said, the nation already has Cyber Crimes (Prohibition, Prevention, Etc Act, 2015) which takes care of hate speech.

She said: “Let me just address the issue on hate crime and the bill before National Assembly. Like you rightly said it’s a bill, it’s not yet law. So, the sponsor of the bill might have 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 the Cybercrime Act, there is a law already in Nigeria, the cybercrime act that has the hate speech aspect in it…there is a law. I stand to be corrected.

“I think it was passed 2014/2015. I am not particularly sure but there is a law that takes care of…Because cybercrime is now a major issue and as your know internationally, the world over, everybody is concerned about it being the new frontier to fight crime.

“So hate speech is within that cybercrime aspect.”

However, the Act 2015 also prescribes the death penalty for an offence committed against a system or network that has been designated critical national infrastructure of Nigeria that results in the death of an individual (amongst other punishments for lesser crimes).

Government stated that the Act provides an effective, unified and comprehensive legal, regulatory and institutional framework for the prohibition, prevention, detection, prosecution and punishment of cybercrimes in Nigeria.

“This act also ensures the protection of critical national information infrastructure, and promotes cybersecurity and the protection of computer systems and networks, electronic communications, data and computer programs, intellectual property and privacy rights.

 

Tony Ailemen, Abuja

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