By Naomi Sharang
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Publicity, Sen. Godiya Akwashiki, said the Bill for prohibition of hate speech was meant to protect the interest of Nigerians.
Akwashiki made this known while briefing to newsmen in Abuja on Wednesday.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the senate had on Tuesday, introduced a Bill which seeks to establish a Federal Government agency to check hate speech in the country.
It also prescribed death by hanging as the maximum punishment for certain categories of offenders.
The Bill, sponsored by a former Senate spokesman, who is now the Deputy Senate Whip, Sabi Abdullahi, passed first reading on the floor of the upper chamber titled, “National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speech (Estb., etc) Bill 19.
While answering questions from newsmen, Akwashiki who represents Nasarawa North Senatorial District said that even if the Bill scaled second, “we are working for the progress and betterment of Nigerians.
“I want to urge Nigerians to exercise patience with me and the senate because it is not wise for me nor legally right for me to discuss a Bill that has not been mentioned for the second time on the floor of the senate.
“We have a process of enacting a law or an Act in the National Assembly or in the state Assembly.
“The process starts with the First reading, when the Leader of the Senate will read it for the first time.
“The Second reading is taken after the Bill has been subjected to debate on the floor of the Senate.
“Once a Bill scales second reading, it has to go to the committee and would return to the House again,” Akwashiki said.
The spokesman further explained that if the Bill would represent the wishes and interest of Nigerians, it would certainly scale second reading.
“If it is a Bill that will create hardship and crisis for the people of Nigeria, it will be quashed on the floor of the senate by senators when it comes for second reading.
“The Bill even if it scales second reading, it will protect your interest (as journalists) and give you immunity to make sure you do your job justifiably without fear.”