Home Politics Nigeria’s Hate Speech Bill Impressive – US Envoy

Nigeria’s Hate Speech Bill Impressive – US Envoy

by Ayodeji Onibalusi
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The Political Officer of the Embassy of the United States of America, Jerry Howard, while paying a visit to the National Assembly expressed satisfaction with the work put into the controversial Hate Speech bill.

Mr. Howard was in a meeting with Senator Sabi Abdullahi, who sponsored the bill, to seek understanding of the bill. The Hate Speech bill, which has been a major cause of controversy in the media, initially sought the death penalty for anyone found guilty of Hate Speech.

This generated so much heat among Nigerians who took to social media and the media to express their displeasure in the bill. The death penalty clause was later struck out.

Mr. Howard advised the National Assembly to engage with NGOs and the civil society groups on the Hate Speech Bill. This was after Senator Abdulahi explained the reason behind the decision to sponsor the Hate Speech Bill.

The Senator had explained the purpose of sponsoring the bill to Howard, saying “Part of the reasons why violence takes place is attributable to discriminatory practices. It is discrimination that creates the social-political imbalance that you see leading to a group feeling shortchanged and marginalized.

“Discrimination is also another very serious matter why I sponsored the bill. This bill basically is about preventing discrimination and prohibiting people who incite violence,” Senator Abah said.

Mr. Howard, explaining the reason behind his visit to the National Assembly, said, “We want Nigeria to succeed and we think a prerequisite for Nigeria’s success is a successful democracy.

“For democracy to succeed, the people must have a house, the people must have a place where their representatives can argue and complain, come up with new ideas and come up with solutions to guide the executive branch and lead the country forward.”

Mr. Howard commended the lawmaker for how much effort has been put into the bill.

“I’m very impressed with the research you’ve done on the bill. The media has had a field day with this, really.

“You’ve thought it through. I was depending on the media for my education, and it was very misleading. You’ve done your research and it is very interesting.

“But you have a difficult job selling this to the NGOs, CSOs. You need to talk to them. You’ll need to talk to civil society organizations, you need to educate them.

“You’ve educated me,” said Howard.

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