The Senate has distanced itself from the proposed legislation of the controversial hate speech bill which passed first reading last week.
According to the PUNCH METRO, Senator Godiya Akwashiki, while addressing newsmen in Abuja on Monday said that contrary to widespread impression, the bill was not the idea of the 9th Senate.
He said it was solely being sponsored by the Deputy Chief Whip, Sabi Abdullahi, based on his conviction. Going further, he added that the fate of the bill would be determined on the floor of the Senate after a robust debate by senators.
Godiya Akwashiki said,
“There is a statement credited to the spokesperson for the Peoples Democratic Party saying that the hate speech bill before us is a collaboration between the Senate and President Muhammadu Buhari to islamise the country or make things happen the way he (Buhari) wants it.
“It (the statement) also claims that he (Buhari) is trying to bring the hate speech to enable him to achieve a third term. I’m happy that the sponsor of the bill is here. He has cleared the air.
“It is the right of a senator to sponsor a private member bill. We also have the executive bill but the hate speech bill before the Senate today is a private senator bill. Mr President has nothing to do with it and it also has nothing to do with third term agenda.
“It is not also aimed at islamise Nigeria. When the bill gets to second reading, senators would have the opportunity to speak. They would scrutinise it and remove whatever they perceive offensive and insert those that are meant to protect the interest of Nigerians.
“I want to make it clear once again that the hate speech bill before the Senate is a private senator bill, not an executive bill.”
Meanwhile, the senator behind the bill Sabi Abdullahi disclosed on Monday in Abuja that he has been receiving threats over the bill. He however vowed to push on with it.
Although Sabi Abdullahi did not state the kind of threats he has been receiving, he vowed not to “shy away from his responsibility.”
“Like somebody wrote to me, over the past ten days or so since the bill was read for the first time, I have received all kinds of messages some even including threats. But I am not bothered about that. In all of these, if I receive one commendation, it gladdens my heart and I did receive many commendations and one stood out and said there is so much hate in this country. We must check it
“If you meet those who have lost their loved ones arising from religious or ethnicity, intolerance, and the like, I don’t think they will be smiling with you when you tell them hate speech is nonsense or does not exist. They have felt, seen and are living as victims of hate speech,” he said.