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Sabi Abdullahi, the senator who introduced a bill for the establishment of Independent National Commission for Hate Speeches, has explained why a penalty of death sentence was included in the bill.

The proposed commission would enforce hate speech laws across the country, and ensure the “elimination” of hate speech, the bill says.

The bill which passed for second reading at the Senate prescribed death by hanging for any person found guilty of any form of hate speech that results in the death of another person.

Since the introduction of the bill, Nigerians have raised doubts on its intention. They argued that the bill was intended to hunt down critics of the government.

Prominent in the voices was that of a former minister of aviation, Femi Fani-Kayode, who accused the President Muhammadu Buhari of turning Nigeria to a North Korea.

An ardent critic of the APC administration, Mr. Fani-Kayode criticised the bill on his Twitter Handle.

“Now they want to pass a law that prescribes the death penalty for calling a demon a demon,” he wrote.

“They call it “hate speech” because they “hate it” when we call a spade a spade, tell them what they are and expose their barbarity. Buhari wants Nig. to be like N. Korea. He hates free speech!”

However, Mr. Abdullahi has disagreed with the critics.

Instead, he explained that the bill has slated some processes which must be exhausted before a person is subjected to the maximum punishment.

Contrary to public view that the bill provides that ‘all persons who make hate speeches would die by hanging’, the Senate spokesperson said the penalty is only for those who are found guilty of any form of hate speech that results in the death of another person after judicial processes in a Federal High Court.

“The issue there is that why not death penalty when you are responsible for deaths of other people,” he asked rhetorically. “After all, our present law says if you do anything that result in the death of another person and it is proven beyond reasonable doubt that you caused the death of that person, the penalty is death by hanging.

“It is very clear. It has to be proven that there is hate speech, it has to be proven that the hate speech led to the death of that person. There is a condition that it has to be proven beyond reasonable doubt in a court of law. The jurisdiction of the bill is the Federal High Court.”

Mr. Abdullahi said that those who are criticising the bill are doing so because they haven’t experienced loss of a relative to violence instigated by hate speech.

“People who may be having some opposing views about it definitely are not in the category of people who have lost dear ones and family or livelihood to similar circumstances. If they are, I think they will be saying how I wish this was in place before this thing happened to me.”

Mr. Abdullahi denounced the notion that such law, after the bill has passed through legislative and executive processes, would be wielded by politicians to victimise their critics.

He added that the bill will serve as a preventive measure to deaths arising from violence started by hate speeches.

“We are also careful not to allow anybody take that and think he can continuously use it to oppress other people for whatever reason,” he said.

“That (victimisation) is not possible, the bill does not leave it as an administrative act. The jurisdiction here is purely before the Federal High Court. The commission is independent and nobody can direct or influence it. The moment it is put in place, no authority can give it directives. It is independently empowered.

“They have processes through which they will do conciliations, and where there are conciliations between parties, they have to sign agreement as an undertaking to abide by whatever terms and conditions are agreed upon with that conciliation. But where it becomes necessary that a person needs to be charged to court, it must be the Federal High Court for prosecution and at the court, you are entitled to your counsel.

“The commission is expected to do conciliation first and that is why they are also expected to monitor under their functions and when they monitor and see different kinds of people who are already going in the way of hate speech, they will draw cautions.

‘’By the time you get about five people that some people are involved in this kind of speech and they are being asked to refrain which they did, then you can see that we are already taking preventive measures.”

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COVID-19: Ex-LASIMRA Boss, Jide Odekunle, Dies At Lagos Isolation Center

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Chief Jide Odekunle, immediate past General Manager of LASIMRA during the administration of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode in Lagos State, has died.

The top socialite reportedly died of Coronavirus complications at the Onikan isolation center.

He was also the former secretary of the Ikoyi Club.

He was until his death the Bobagunwa of Egbaland.

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JUST IN: Ebonyi Governor Tests Positive For COVID-19

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Ebonyi State Governor, Dave Umahi, has tested positive for the novel coronavirus disease.

This was contained in a statement personally signed by him on Saturday.

Details later…

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Heritage Bank Shuts Branch For Disinfection Over Suspected Coronavirus Case

Gbemileke Ajayi

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Heritage Bank Plc said it has closed down an Experience Centre- EC (branch) at Allen Avenue; Ikeja over the “unconfirmed case” of Coronavirus for deep hygiene clean up after an employee took ill last week.

The bank in a statement made available to the press and customers noted: “in line with our emergency response plan and following regulatory practices, we have taken immediate steps to close down Allen Avenue, Ikeja Experience Centers- EC (branch) for thorough disinfection of the affected location.”

Contrary to rumour, the bank disclosed that whilst the suspected staff awaits her medical test from the Covid-19 Test Centre in Yaba, she had not exhibited any symptoms related to the virus.

“Neither of the suspected person or others in the EC had exhibited any symptoms,” the bank said in the statement.

Specifically, the bank stated that staff were advised to self-isolate for 14days forthwith which was in consonance with Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

The bank stated that the EC will undergo “thorough disinfection,” further affirmed, “Customers and staff safety remains paramount; hence we will recommence business with a new set of relief employees, as the current staff self-isolate.”

In the interim, the bank advised customers, “please visit other ECs or branches in Ikeja where you can conduct your daily transactions. Otherwise, you can use our alternate e-channels for seamless service deliveries.

“Heritage Bank remains resolute to continually serve you seamlessly despite prohibitions imposed on physical contact through our bouquet of electronic products which have been made available on notable mobile stores and our website (www.hbng.com).”

The bank noted that it would continue to intensify ongoing efforts via its intranet and other channels to keep staff and customers up-to-date with the latest COVID-19 information and provide clear direction and guidance expected of workers and customers.

“We have set up a COVID-19 Support Centre to offer COVID-19 safety tips to all our customers during this period, in support of the efforts of the Government and relevant bodies. Please send any information relating to the COVID-19 pandemic via these channels: E-mail: [email protected] and contact number: 01-2369099,” the bank stated.

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