National Assembly Nigeria

US declares support for Hate Speech Bill in Nigeria

  • Says media reports are misleading
  • Shower praises on National Assembly on research on the bill

The United States of America has declared its support for the Hate Speech Bill before Nigeria’s National Assembly.

The position of the US government was made known by its Political Officer of the Embassy of the United States of America, Jerry Howard, on Tuesday.

He described the Hate Speech bill before the National Assembly as an “impressive” piece of legislation needed to address issues of discrimination, hostility and violence in Nigeria.

The US top official who met the Deputy Chief Whip of the Senate and sponsor of the Hate Speech bill, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, at the National Assembly, Abuja, said his visit was intended to engage the sponsor of the Hate Speech bill and to seek an understanding into the proposed legislation under consideration by the Senate.

After listening to Senator Abdullahi, Howard described the response of the media as “misleading” and “hysterical” of the contents of the bill and what it actually seeks to achieve.

“For democracy to succeed, the people must have a house, the people must have a place where their representatives can argue and complain, come up with new ideas and come up with solutions to guide the executive branch and lead the country forward.”

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Howard urged the National Assembly to actively engage and educate Non-Governmental Organizations and Civil Society Organizations in the country on its proposed contents so as to muster support for the bill.

“We want Nigeria to succeed and we think a prerequisite for Nigeria’s success is successful democracy.

Commending the lawmaker for the level of work and research carried out on the bill, he said, “I’m very impressed with the research you’ve done on the bill. The media has had a field day with this, really.

“You’ve thought it through. I was depending on the media for my education, and it was very misleading. You’ve done your research and it is very interesting.

“But you have a difficult job selling this to the NGOs, CSOs. You need to talk to them. You’ll need to talk to Civil Society Organizations, you need to educate them.

Speaking, the senior lawmaker said “Part of the reasons why violence takes place is attributable to discriminatory practices.

“It is discrimination that creates the socio-political imbalance that you see leading to a group feeling shortchanged and marginalised.

“Discrimination is also another very serious matter why I sponsored the bill. This bill basically is about preventing discrimination, and prohibiting people who incite violence,” he explained.

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Senator Abdullahi stated that the bill’s introduction by the National Assembly has the backing of Section 45 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended.

Civil society organisation and millions of Nigerians had kicked against the bill since it’s presented before the National Assembly.

A few hours ago, the Presiding Bishop of Winners Chapel, Bishop David Oyedepo, condemned the bill.

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