Following the spate of hate speeches that have overrun the country and its tendency to cause tension among groups, Senate President Bukola Saraki on Tuesday said the Hate Speech bill will be given priority when the Senate resumes its annual leave.
While Saraki made it known that the bill will, among other things, propose punitive measures against people who engage in verbal attacks, Senator Shehu Sani has called on Nigerians to get involved in defining what constitutes “hate speech”.
In a Facebook post, Senator Sani representing Kaduna Central in the upper chamber, wrote: “We will pass a law on hate speech to squarely address the problems of extremism, incitement, violence and associated vices; but all Nigerians must be interested and fully involved in finding the definition and marking the red line on what constitutes hate speech and what does not. In that way we can combat hate speech without trampling on the right to freedom of speech and the right to criticize your government. Nigerians must be interested in every clause of the bill. Let’s have a law that will go after the bad ones and not a monster that will go after everyone. Never completely leave the business of law making on the hands of people in Government alone. Be interested, be involved.”
This is an authentic conversation that the Senate should have before it passes the Hate Speech bill into law as it might be infringing on citizens’ right to free speech in its attempt to shut down hate speeches. Would we end up with a law that will silence those with whom we don’t agree with their ideals?