Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, sponsor of the bill seeking death penalty for hate speech offenders, was once humiliated in his constituency for alleged non-performance.
Abdullahi, on November 3, 2017, was reportedly humiliated by his constituents in Kontagora, Niger North senatorial district, when he visited the constituency to acquaint himself with them for the first time after winning his election as senator in 2015 under the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
Media reports indicate that the senator was “stoned, disgraced and insulted” by his constituents and party executives at a town hall meeting he convened after failing to respond satisfactorily to questions posed to him.
Abdullahi, who is presently the deputy chief whip of the Senate, was said to have been asked to explain why allegedly failed to attract projects to his constituency between 2015 and the time called for the meeting with them.
The reports said the senator was also asked to give account of the financial support he had rendered to students in his constituency, but that he allegedly failed to answer the questions.
It reportedly took the help of mobile policemen and officials of the Civil Defense Corp who whisked him away from the venue of the event when his constituents started attacking him.
Meanwhile, Abdullahi’s anti-hate speech bill currently being considered at the upper legislative chamber has obviously put him in the spotlight as the bill has continued to earn more criticism than accolades since it was read for the first time at the Red Chamber on Tuesday.
The bill is seeking establishment of the National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speech.
Among prominent Nigerians and organizations who have kicked against the bill are former vice president Atiku Abubakar, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mike Ozhekome, and the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), among others.
Atiku had said, “The contemplation of such laws is in itself not just hate speech, but an abuse of the legislative process that will violate Nigerians’ constitutionally guaranteed right to Freedom of Speech.”
Ozhekome described the bill as the most piece of draconian legislation, saying “this maverick and intolerant government cannot be trusted by any sane person to fairly operate such a draconian piece of legislation introduced under a law that carries the death penalty,for alleged hate speech.”
The NBA, in its reaction, cautioned the Senate to “tread carefully” with the bill as “Section 39(3) of the Constitution makes it mandatory that no law can abrogate the rights of Nigerians to exercise their right to freedom of speech except if such law can be reasonably justified in a democratic society. “Can a Hate Bill be reasonably justified in a democratic society?”