The sponsor of hate bill Senator Aliyu Abdullahi has said Nigerians need to support the bill considering the dangers that loom if it is not passed into law.
Abdullahi who is also the Deputy Chief Whip of the Senate described opponents of the “hate speech bill” as ignorant.
Defending the need for the bill, Abdullahi said it would help prevent “false information being spilled out by some persons and groups parading themselves as serving the interest of the nation”.
He cited a reports by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) and Centre for Information Technology and Development (CITAD) in his defence, saying persons with strong bias capable of escalating ethnic and religious violence are infiltrating the media.
He said, “Both Christians and Muslims have said that the media blatantly expresses bias against their religion, and that journalists will deliberately not report their story or perspective.”
“Outside the immediate communities affected by a specific incident, the general public’s understanding of violent events is often incomplete.
“In some cases, false news about attacks have incited the people to undertake revenge attacks in various parts of the country.”
“In 2017, Nigeria experienced the continuation of three major conflicts that provided a fertile ground for the propagation of hate speech.
“These were the resurgence of the Biafra Agitation in the South East, the clash between the Army and members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, popularly referred to as the Shiites Movement in the North West, and the transformation of the localized farmers-herders conflict and cattle rustling to the large scale rural banditry that had taken an ethno-religious character across much of the North West and North Central zones of the country,” he made reference to CITAD report.
He said scores of people were killed as a result of hate speech and aggravated comments made some people to instigate violence.
“More than at any time in the recent history of the country, hate speech became widely used in public discourse and communication,” he said.
Millions of Nigerians have kicked against the bill, describing it as a threat to their fundamental rights.