The Senate, this week, achieved the seemingly difficult task of uniting Nigerians when it proposed a bill seeking the death penalty for hate speech offenders. People from all walks of life, proletariats and bourgeoisies irrespective of the political divide, joined forces to condemn such an anti-human rights move. Football has been the only unifying factor in a nation walking the thin line of ethnic, political and religious divides but the fear of speaking ones way to death was enough to jolt people back to their senses.
Sponsorer of the bill, deputy chief whip, Aliyu Abdullahi, has come under series of attacks that directly falls under the ‘anti-hate speech’ spectrum, the exact thing the senator seeks to put an end to. The bill also aims to establish a commission, the Independent National Commission for Hate Speeches, to see to the total elimination of hate speech in the country.
According to the bill, “A person who uses, publishes, presents, produces, plays, provides, distributes and/or directs the performance of any material, written and/or visual, which is threatening, abusive or insulting or involves the use of threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour, commits an offence, if such person intends thereby to stir up ethnic hatred, or having regard to all the circumstances, ethnic hatred is likely to be stirred up against any person or person from such an ethnic group in Nigeria.
“A person subjects another to harassment on the basis of ethnicity for the purposes of this section where, on ethnic grounds, he unjustifiably engages in a conduct which has the purpose or effect of (a) violating that other person’s dignity or (b) creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for the person subjected to the harassment.”
The above is enough to send jitters down the spine of Nigerians, especially in an era where fake news has become the norm. However, if the Senate thinks the bill is in the best interest of all, then, there are few amendments to the bill Nigerians would love to see.
Nigerians are in dire need of a bill that will criminalise appearing in court in wheelchairs, stretchers, or the likes, especially when the culprits are people known to have mismanaged or stolen billions of nairas. Administering lethal injections will take them out of their sudden ailments, whatever it is.
In addition to that, as hate speech offenders have their necks wrung with ropes, those who renegade on campaign promises should also stare down the barrel of the gun. They should be given the ‘Anini’ treatment with their backs against barrels and executed openly. By doing that, Nigeria will gradually be moving to the promised land.
How can we forget those who flagrantly disobey court orders? We need to find a proper punishment for them also. How do we propose they die? Their death should not be convenient since they have turned deaf ears to the law. Having their heads cut off at the market square will send a message to others who might want to toe their path.
There is the need for a paragraph in the bill that will pronounce death by burning for those caught on camera stuffing dollars into their ‘agbada’ or ‘babariga’, depending on the name we give the outfit. All that money adding to the glow of the flames will be poetic justice.
Might we also recommend jungle justice for those bribe collecting law enforcement officers, whether in black, grey, yellow and wine, blue on black or tatteredly dressed uniforms? They should be clubbed to death with sticks, irons, stones, machetes, or whatever will do the work for the mob. You can imagine that for once, bribery will be a thing of the past amongst our law enforcement agents.
There has to be a way to ensure that those who go to their places of work to sleep during national discuss do not go free. It is pathetic when those who live on different allowances are seen on national television sleeping away the hope of their various constituents while those who put them there, toil night and day to feed. Those set of people should be pushed to their death. A speeding truck or fast-moving train will do the trick.
For the criminals, who clothe themselves in religious robes, judgment for them should be instant. Plucking out the eyes that led them to sin, as advised in the Christian holy book, The Bible, will suffice. After that, we let them rot in the wilderness (we should be able to find one in the north) where the vultures will feast on them. That should be corresponding to whatever crime they commit.
Lastly, those leaders, who at one point or the other, have suffered the masses with their anti-people policies, can be allowed to fight to the death. It would be ironic, having them in an arena, like in ancient Rome, with swords dangling on their hands, seeing them fight for their lives the way they embezzled national funds. Don’t you think Nigerians would have the last laugh?
By Akinleye Segun
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Olusegun Akinleye is a social critic, prolific journalist/writer with a vast experience in news gathering/writing, Public Relations and Branding. Olusegun is an alumni of the prestigious Nigerian Institute of Journalism.