The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has berated the Senate over the introduction of the Prohibition of Hate Speech Bill, describing it as an attempt to exterminate dissent voices to the Federal Government’s policies and actions.
The PDP stated its position in a statement issued by Kola Ologbondiyan, its National Publicity Secretary, on Wednesday.
The bill, sponsored by a former Senate spokesperson, now the Deputy Senate Whip, Sabi Abdullahi, passed first reading on the floor of the red chamber on Tuesday.
According to the opposition party, even though it does not support hate speech in any form, the introduction and provisions of the bill, including the death penalty for offenders, is just to victimise Nigerians, describing it as “savage, repressive and cruel”.
It noted that the reintroduction of the “unconstitutional” and “undemocratic” bill in another format after the social media bill failed to get legislative approval allegedly proved the desperation of the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led Federal Government to silence Nigerians from challenging it on what it described as obnoxious policies.
The statement read: “The PDP notes that the nation already has enough constitutional provisions and extant laws to safeguard a sane and healthy public expression space and cannot allow such cruel law devised to victimize and persecute the citizens, ostensibly as a regime protection measure.
“Such laws can only find space in Hitler’s Germany, Mussolini’s Italy, Idi Amin’s Uganda and not in this era or in a democratic state such as Nigeria.
“The resurfacing of the cruel bill in the Senate, after Nigerians vehemently rejected it last year, only points to the incurable desperation of the APC Federal Government to suppress and crush the will of the citizens at all cost.
“The party pointed out that the provisions of the bill are deliberately hazy and nebulous with the malicious intention to victimize innocent Nigerians.”
Noting that the bill is reminiscent of anti-democratic regimes, the PDP argued that Nigeria’s nascent democracy would turn into a despotic regime should the bill be passed.
The opposition party asked that persons in the APC who have made inciting comments in the past deemed to be hate speech must be prosecuted first to show their seriousness to Nigerians.
“The PDP challenges the proponents of the bill to start by condemning and setting penalties for those behind the ‘body bag’ comments as well as the ‘baboon and the dog blood’ narrative, which led to bloody unrest and the death of many innocent Nigerians.
“Our party therefore cautions the APC and its Federal Government to retrace their steps and withdraw the noxious bill,” the statement read.