Minister of State for Transportation, Gbemisola Saraki has criticised sponsors of a new bill on hate speech, saying the Cybercrime Acts(2015) which is already in existence will suffice to check social media violators.
Saraki reacted to the contentious bill on Wednesday, which is already before the National Assembly.
The bill was sponsored by Senator Sabi Abdullahi, it prescribes death by hanging for violators who go on disseminating remarks that are considered to be inciting hatred among Nigerians.
The bill is also generating criticisms from cross sections of Nigerians, with many urging the Senate to jettison it because it may gag free speech.
Although the Ministry of Information and Culture has been spearheading reforms in this sector, State House correspondents sought a reaction to this development from the Minister, Lai Mohammed, during a news conference on the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC), but he technically requested the  Minister of State for Transportation, Gbemisola Saraki, to answer.
According to Saraki, it would amount to jumping the gun to make conclusions of the Hate Speech bill because it is still a bill, not an Act.
 Her words: “It’s a bill, it’s not yet law. So the sponsor of the bill might have put the death penalty there. I think we are jumping the gun a bit, he is proposing the bill is not yet an act.
“Be that as it may, I think the Cybercrime Act is a law already in Nigeria; the Cybercrime Act that has the hate speech aspect in it.
“I am not privileged to know the sponsor of the particular bill that you mentioned but there is a law, I stand to be corrected I think it was passed 2014/2015.
“I am not particularly sure but there is a law that takes care of (hate speech) because cybercrime is now a major issue and as you know internationally, the world over everybody is concerned about it being the new frontier to fight crime. So, hate speech is within that cybercrime aspect.”
The Cybercrime Act, which also prescribes death penalty for certain offences, provides an effective, unified and comprehensive legal, regulatory and institutional framework for the prohibition, prevention, detection, prosecution and punishment of cybercrimes in Nigeria.
The act also ensures the protection of critical national information infrastructure, and promotes cybersecurity and the protection of computer systems and networks, electronic communications, data and computer programs, intellectual property and privacy rights.

It further prescribes the death penalty for an offence committed against a system or network that has been designated critical national infrastructure of Nigeria that results in the death of an individual (amongst other punishments for lesser crimes)

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