The Oasis Reporters
November 18, 2019
Senator Uche Ekwunife, representing Anambra Central Senatorial District, and one of Nigeria’s very few female lawmakers had recently responded to inquiries from her constituents on her position as regards the Hate Speech bill that was presented to the Senate.
She responded thus :
Following several telephone calls and messages I have received on the issue of this Hate Speech Bill which passed first reading in the Senate last week, I feel inclined to issue this statement to clarify some of the issues raised in these messages.
First of all, I want to state that the Bill has not been mentioned for the SECOND READING on the floor of the Senate. In our legislative process, it is during the SECOND READING of a Bill that the sponsors of the Bill explain the objective of the Bill, after which it is subjected to a vibrant debate by other Senators.
That the Bill has passed FIRST READING in the Senate should not be a cause for concern to anyone. In our law making process, FIRST READING is merely a proposal for a Bill to be read a second time and the process is automatic. I can assure you that when the Bill is up for the SECOND READING, like all other Bills, this proposed Hate Speech Bill will be subjected to a very rigorous debate at the Senate Chambers, after which the public will still have an opportunity to make their inputs during the public hearings that will follow.
I want to assure you that I and my colleagues at the Senate would never allow any bill to pass SECOND READING which does not FULLY reflect the true wishes and interests of Nigerians. I am aware that the provisions of the CYBER CRIMES (PROHIBITION, PREVENTION ETC) ACT, 2015 and other statutes, already have provisions and penalties for hate speech and consequently, any other bill which seeks to regulate these same areas would be duplicitous and unnecessary.
Furthermore, section 39 of the 1999 Constitution as amended, guarantees to all Nigerian citizens, a fundamental right to Freedom of Expression. Therefore, to the extent that this Hate Speech Bill seeks to abridge the fundamental rights of Nigerians, guaranteed by the 1999 Constitution, I will vehemently oppose it as being inconsistent with the Supremacy Clause of the 1999 Constitution as enshrined in section 1(3).
I therefore urge you all to remain patient and law abiding as I assure you that this Hate Speech Bill will be rejected by me totally.
God bless you all.
Senator Uche Ekwunife (IYOM)