Punishment for Hate Speech in Nigeria will be explained here. This will guide Nigerians on the consequences of hate speech to avoid them.
Consequences of Hate Speech
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Wikipedia defines hate speech as a “statement intended to demean and brutalize another. It is the use of cruel and derogatory language, gestures, or vandalism often directed toward an individual or group.
Hate speech is speech that attacks a person or group based on attributes such as race, religion, ethnic origin, national origin, sex, disability, sexual orientation, or gender identity.
This included speech, gestures conduct writing, or displays that incite violence or prejudicial actions against a group or individuals based on their membership in the group.
This bill was not considered before now because there is already existing legislation that prohibits discrimination of persons based on gender, ethnic origin, religious affiliation, etc. for example, the Nigerian Film, and Video Censors Board is mandated to censor and prevent the production of offensive materials or films that are capable of inciting violence against another person or group of persons.
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The Advertising Practitioners Council, the National Broadcasting Commission, the Nigerian Press Code, etc. were established with provisions to prevent and possibly punish the act of inciting hate and violence against persons or groups of persons.
In recent times, the Nigerian government has sought ways to handle hate speech in Nigeria. The latest move has been the introduction of a bill on the floor of the national assembly to cater to such offenses.
The bill is captioned “An Act of the National Assembly to Promote National Cohesion and Integration by Outlawing Unfair Discrimination, Hate Speeches and to Provide for the Establishment, Powers and
Functions of the Independent National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speeches and Purposes Connected Therewith”.
The bill does not however pointedly define hate speech. It, however, lists acts that constitute hate speech including:
Publishing, presenting, producing, playing, providing, distributing, directing the performance of any written or visual material which threatens abuses or insults; the use of words or behaviors that threaten, insult, or abuse another to incite ethnic hatred in Nigeria.
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Punishment for Hate Speech in Nigeria
The bill seeks to prescribe the following Punishment for Hate Speech in Nigeria:
1. A person found guilty of hate speech shall serve life imprisonment if convicted In another case if the outcome of the inciting speech is less severe, the accused can be made to serve a jail term of 5 years or a fine option of ₦10,000,000 or both jail term and fine.
2. If the hate speech committed leads to the death of any individual, such an accused person shall be sentenced to death by hanging when convicted.
Note however that the bill is still under consideration on the floors of the national assembly. There are however criticisms of the bill, citing the suggestion of capital punishment for certain classes of offenders as too harsh.
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Others feel other acts and laws already stipulate punishments or penalties for hate speech and inciting comments.
So, before one thinks of making inciting remarks and comments capable of arousing hate and violence against a particular person or group of persons, just remember that there is punishment for it.