The Federal Government on Wednesday replied the Senate on the contentious Hate Speech Bill saying the existing Cybercrime Act (2015) is enough to handle the purveyors of hate speech on social media.
The Hate Speech bill, sponsored by Senator Sabi Abdullahi, prescribes death by hanging for violators, resulting in calls for it to be jettisoned by the lawmakers as it hamper free speech.
The proposed legislation passed first reading in the upper legislative chamber after Nelson Ayewoh, clerk of the senate, read the title of the bill on Tuesday.
Abdullahi first sponsored the hate speech bill in the eighth assembly, but the bill did not make it through to third reading.
The reintroduction of the bill entitled, ‘National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speeches Bill 2019’ is coming a week after the senate introduced a bill to regulate social media.
Responding to a question directed at the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, at the end of Federal Executive Council (FEC), presides over by Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, Minister of State for Transportation, Gbemisola Saraki, said Nigerians were jumping the gun by drawing conclusions of the Hate Speech Bill yet to become an Act.
Saraki said: “It’s a bill, it’s not yet law. So the sponsor of the bill might have put the death penalty there. I think we are jumping the gun a bit, he is proposing the bill is not yet an act.
“Be that as it may, I think the Cybercrime Act is a law already in Nigeria; the Cybercrime Act that has the hate speech aspect in it.
“I am not privileged to know the sponsor of the particular bill that you mentioned but 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 (hate speech) 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.”