The Kaduna State chapter of the Benue Media Forum (BMF) Kaduna State has urged the National Assembly to suspend debating the Bill on hate speech pending the resolution of herdsmen killings in the country.
In a communiqué it issued at the weekend in Kaduna, the group resolved that although the bill before the National Assembly was a good initiative towards the country’s quest for peaceful resolution, it should be stopped until the continuous killings by herdsmen across the country was resolved.
It also noted that herdsmen attacks and killings, as former President Olusegun Obasanjo stated during his recent condolence visit to Benue State, required collaboration of the affected states to end the terrorist’s activities, rather than by individual efforts.
The communiqué, signed by its Chairman, Idibia Gabriel and Secretary, Nicholas Dekera said: “The recent attacks and killings at Omusu in Edumoga, Okpokwu Local Council of Benue State of no fewer than 46 students, women and children while several others were seriously injured, was uncalled for.
“The BMF keenly observed the shocking, continuous gruesome killing of indigenes of Benue State by Fulani herdsmen.
“The killings in Okpokwu was purely a revenge mission carried out by callous herdsman for allegedly killing two of their cattle that destroyed people’s crops in a state that has an anti-open cattle grazing law in place.”
It also observed that the Okpokwu incident was one of the many coordinated attacks involving shooting, killing of people and burning of houses and property worth billions by herdsmen in Guma, Logo, Agatu, Utonkon and other communities across the state.
Meanwhile, representative of Anambra Central senatorial district, Victor Umeh, has said that the bill on capital punishment against hate speech offenders, when passed into law, may not guarantee national unity.
The bill stated: “A person who uses, publishes, presents, produces, plays, provides, distributes or directs the performance of any material, written or visual which is threatening, abusive or insulting or involves the use of threatening, abusive or insulting words or behavior commits an offence.
“Such persons commit an offence if they intend 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.”