Lai Mohammed Denies Knowledge of Hate Speech Bill
The Nigeria minister of information, Mr Lai Mohammed has denied having knowledge of hate speech and internet bill before the senate.
Responding to an interviewer on DW, the information minister said he knew nothing about the bill, nor its sponsors.
The anchor citing some of the contents of the bill, Mr Lai Mohammed asked in awe “who is the author of that bill?”
Are you against the bill or not? the moderator asked, but Mr Lai Mohammed responded thus: “I ‘m not even aware of that bill!
The anchor further put it to the minister that, the bill is causing an outcry internationally, yet as a minister of information, he claims ignorant of the bill. Mr Lai Mohammed then responded by shouting, there is no such bill in the house”.
CityNews recalled that the deputy chief whip of the house, Aliyu Abdullahi sponsored the bill in November 2019.
The bill titled “The National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speech Bill” was first introduced to the Senate on March 2018 for consideration and passage. It however, did not make it through to third reading.
It prescribes death penalty for anyone found guilty of spreading a falsehood that leads to the death of another person.
The bill also seeks the establishment of a National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speech to help investigate and prosecute offenders.
When the bill was reintroduced in November, 2019 some civic groups kicked against the bill because of its narrow and unclear definition of what constitutes hate speech.
They say the provisions of the bill would be contrary to the Nigerian Constitution if the bill becomes law as designed.
The Constitution protects the rights to unhindered speech, expression and association.
A former vice president, Atiku Abubakar, also cautioned Nigerian senators against moves to pass the bill.
He said the freedom of speech and other key elements of civil liberties which Nigerians enjoyed between 1999 and 2015 should not be taken away by the current administration.
Despite the controversies and outcry, the minister of information bluntly denied knowledge of such bill.
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