Hate Speech: Anambra Lawmakers Reject Death Penalty For Convicts

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Judiciary

SOME members of the Anambra State House of Assembly, in an interview with journalists in Awka have dissociated themselves from the recent hate speech bill passed by the Nigerian Senate waiting for the president assent.

Hon Somtochukwu Udeze, representing Ogbaru 2 State constituency in the house, who described the bill as apt to correct what is in vogue now as a veritable instrument to uphold the unity and the integrity of the country, but condemned in strong term the death penalty attached to the bill as reward for any person convicted of hate speech, has urged the president, Mohammadu Buhari to withhold his assent on what he described as Draconian law that will box opposition or free press into corner.

According to him, Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted in 1948 by Nigeria, provides that everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression. This right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

If eventually, President Buhari assented to the bill, any person found guilty of any form of hate speech resulting in the death of another person shall die by hanging upon conviction, he explained.

Another lawmaker, Hon Romanus Obi, representing Orumba North State constituency, on his reaction, requested the President to send the bill back to the Senate for proper amendment, noted that there are existing laws that are capable of handling mal reactions of people in the country.

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He said the 1999 Constitution, under Section 39(1), provides that every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression, including the freedom to hold opinions and receive and impart ideas and information without interference.

The lawmaker berates the Nigerian Senate for coming up with a law that is geared to silenced constructive opinions and criticism by Nigerians attached to the fear of being tagged hate speech.

He, however, called on Nigerians to prevail on the Senate to fine-tune the documents that according to him would further unite the country the more rather than the death penalty attached to the bill.

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