The Nigerian government says citizens of the country need to be patient and await the passage of the bill on hate speech into law instead of generating tension on the proposed death penalty on those promoting hate speech.
Minister of State-Transportation, Gbemisola Saraki made the call while briefing State House correspondents after the weekly Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Wednesday.
She spoke at the backdrop of the bill sponsored by the former Senate Spokesman in the 8th Senate and now Deputy Chief Whip, Abdullahi Sabi, entitled “National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speeches (Est. etc) Bill, 2019 (SB 154).’’
Answering question on the perspective of the Nigerian Government on the Hate Speech Bill as regards the proposed death penalty which has passed through First Reading in the Senate, Saraki said that even if the bill has proposed death penalty on hate speech, it did not mean that the bill will retain its particulars when passed into law.
She said: “Let me just address the issue on hate crime and the bill before National Assembly. Like you rightly said it’s a bill, it’s not yet law. So, the sponsor of the bill might have might have put the death penalty there. I think we are jumping the gun a bit. Like you said, he is proposing a bill, it is not yet an act.
“Be that as it may, I think the Cybercrime Act is a law already in Nigeria. The Cybercrime Act has the hate speech aspect in it. The reason I am not privilege 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 you 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.”
A minute silence was observed by the cabinet at the commencement of the meeting, in honour of former Nigeria’s Petroleum Minister, the late Professor Tamunoemi Sokari David-West, who died at the age of 83 on Monday, November 11.
David-West, the consultant virologist of national and international standing, was the former Commissioner of Education in the old Rivers State, Minister of Petroleum and Energy under the Muhammadu Buhari military regime, and Minister of Mines, Power and Steel under Gen. Ibrahim Babangida regime.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, urged cabinet members to observe a minute silence after the opening prayers.
It’s the third FEC meeting in a row Professor Yemi Osinbajo is presiding over since President Muhammadu Buhari travelled out of the country on October 28.
The President will be away from Nigeria till November 17.