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HATE SPEECH BILL: Despite promise, Senate says no decision yet on expunging death penalty



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The Nigerian Senate on Friday said it has not taken any decision regarding the removal of the death penalty from the controversial Hate Speech Commission Bill currently before it.

Senate spokesman, Godiya Akwashiki stated this on Friday in an interview with journalists, adding that the red chamber had yet to discuss the issue of the death penalty in the hate speech bill because the proposal still remained the personal property of the sponsor until it passed second reading.

This is despite a promise by sponsor of the controversial bill, Aliyu Abdullahi, who had promised to amend the document to ensure the death penalty aspect was yanked off according to the wishes of Nigerians.

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Akwashiki told reporters on Friday, that: “The issue of expunging the death penalty from the hate speech bill is not the decision of the Senate yet. There is a process of enacting an Act. The bill will pass first, second and third readings.

“The hate speech bill has just been mentioned for the first time. It has not come up for a second reading. It is when it is introduced for the second time that the senators will for the first time voice out for or against the bill.

“For now, the sponsor has said he will expunge the clause that prescribes the death penalty for hate speech; that is his own personal opinion.

“I have said it times without number that the hate speech bill is a private member bill. When we get to its second reading, that is when Nigerians will know the position of the Senate on the bill. If the bill does not pass second reading, that will be its end.

“The senators may even decide to remove other clauses apart from the death penalty provision.”

It would be recalled that the hate speech bill has received widespread condemnation from several Nigerians, local and international organizations, including the United Nations, especially for the provision of the death penalty as one of the punishment for offenders.

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