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How your company can land you in trouble when hate speech bill becomes law

How your company can land you in trouble when hate speech bill becomes law
November 13
18:43 2019
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On Tuesday, the senate reintroduced the bill seeking to prohibit hate speech in the country. The bill entitled, “National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speeches Bill 2019” is being sponsored by Sabi Abdullahi, deputy majority whip of the senate.

The proposed legislation has sparked outrage and condemnation over some of its provisions. In the previous assembly, Abdullahi sponsored the same bill, but it did make it through to third reading.

The current bill prescribes death penalty for hate speech and the establishment a commission to prohibit it.

Here are some highlights of the bill:

WHAT CONSTITUTES AN OFFENCE?

According to the bill, a person who uses, publishes, presents, produces, plays, provided, distributes and/or directs the performance of any material, written and or visual which is threatening, abusive or insulting or involves the use of threatening, abusive or insulting words or behavior commits an offence if such person intends thereby to stir up ethnic hatred, or having regard to all the circumstances, ethnic hatred is likely to be stirred up against any person or persons from such an ethnic group in Nigeria.

DEATH BY HANGING

Section 4 (2) of the bill provides that any person found to have committed this offence shall be liable to life imprisonment and where the act causes any loss of life, the person shall be punished through death by hanging.

Section 6 (1) provides that any person who knowingly utters words to incite feelings of contempt, hatred, hostility, violence or discrimination against any person, group or community on the basis of ethnicity or race, commits an offence and shall be liable on conviction be liable to imprisonment for a term not less than five years, or to a fine of not less than N10 million or both.

NOT JUST INDIVIDUALS CAN BE FOUND GUILTY

The bill says in the case of an offence committed by a body of persons where the body of persons is a corporate body, every director, trustee and officer of that body corporate shall also be deemed to be guilty of that offence; and

(b) where the body of persons is a firm, every partner of that firm shall also be deemed to be guilty of that offence.

Going by this, the fate of individuals in organisations are tied to their colleagues.

ESTABLISHMENT OF A COMMISSION

Section 9 (1) provides for the establishment of a commission to be known as the Independent National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speeches.

Section 9 (2) provides that the commission shall be a body corporate with perpetual succession and a common seal and shall, in its corporate name, be capable of

(a) Suing and being sued,

(b) Purchasing or otherwise acquiring, holding, charging or disposing of movable and immovable property;

(c) Borrowing or lending money; and

(d) Doing or performing all other things or acts for the furtherance of the provision of this Act which may lawfully be done of performed by a body corporate.

Section 10 (1) provides that the headquarters of the commission shall be in Abuja, but the commission may establish branch offices in each of the states of the federation in Nigeria.

The bill is not yet a law so it cannot take effect.

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