Nigerians have been reacting angrily to a draft bill been discussed in the Senate which proposes a framework and system of regulation, control, and conduct; the use of the internet and various social platforms in the transmission of information in Nigeria.
The bill which scaled second reading during plenary in the Senate, on Wednesday, was sponsored by Senator Mohammed Sani Musa from Kaduna State.
Social media users on the microblogging platform, Twitter have been using #SayNoToSocialMediaBill to campaign against the proposal.
According to Senator Musa, the bill is not an attempt to stifle free speech or dissenting views; it is rather an opportunity to address a growing threat which, if left unchecked, can cause serious damage in our polity and disrupt peaceful coexistence.”
He stated that much as the internet has numerous benefits, it is also used for the purpose of manipulating information and spreading falsehoods.
Speaking in support of the bill, Senators Abba Moro (PDP, Benue South) and Elisha Abbo (PDP, Adamawa North) described the introduction of the bill as timely, while a lawmaker, Chimaroke Nnamani, who spoke against the bill, was cut short by a point of order raised by Senator Ibn Na’Allah who quoted the provision of Section 39(1)(3) of 1999 as amended to justify the introduction of the bill by the Senate.
Section 39(1) of the 1999 Constitution provides that “Every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression, including the freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information without interference.”
Nigerian celebrities, media influencers, Human Rights bodies, and others who condemned the move said it’s an attempt to muzzle free speech.