Despite the public outcry against the proposed legislation aimed at addressing social media and addressing Hate Speech in Nigeria, sponsors of the bills, senators Sani Musa and Sabi Abdullahi have insisted on pushing for the bill.
In an interview with Punch, All Progressives Congress (APC) lawmakers from Niger State says the bills are meant to serve the overall interest of Nigerians.
Abdullahi, the Deputy Chief Whip wonders why Nigerians, who have not seen the content of the bill are condemning it. He argues that Nigeria needs the bills at its current stage of development.
He says, “I will not drop the bill. In the first instance, I sponsored this bill of my own volition. Nobody asked me to do so. I did all the research and I have my strong reasons for coming up with this.
“There is a stage in our development as a country that we have reached where we have to have caution. I’m not doing this out of ignorance. We need this law at this stage of our development.
“The bill on its own did not create any outrage. The bill is suffering from hate speech already because people have misinterpreted it. Simply because you read ‘death by hanging’ without reading the context, you have started making comments. Is it possible to just hang a human being?”
On his part, Musa vows to go ahead with his Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulation Bill 2019, despite the opposition against the bill.
He says his bill is different from the Hate Speech Bill, saying his proposed legislation is meant to prevent transmission of false statements.
The lawmaker says,“My bill is different from the hate speech bill. As far as I know, we have legislation that can tackle hate speech. My bill can also tackle hate speech because if you know that you are going to say something that is not true, you will think of the consequences.
“There is a difference between my bill and the hate speech bill. I may come out to say something that is against your tradition; it is left for you to prove that the statement has made people look down on you at the court of law.
“The aim and objective of my bill are to prevent the transmission of false statements, or a declaration of facts, knowing full well that those facts are not true in Nigeria.
“It would enable measures to be taken to counter the efforts of such transmissions and also to suppress the financing, promotion and support of online locations that repeatedly transmit false statements.”
He, however added that he is ready to welcome opposition if fellow lawmakers and stakeholders knock the bill on the floor of the senate.