NASS Won’t Pass Social Media Bill Without Nigerians’ Input, Says Lawan

A file photo of the Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, during plenary at the upper chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja.

 

 

The President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, has given an assurance that the National Assembly would not arrogate to itself the power of exclusively passing the social media bill into law without inputs from Nigerians.

Lawan stated this in an address delivered to declare open a Public Hearing on the Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulations Bill, also known as the Social Media Bill, presently under consideration by the National Assembly.

The public hearing which held on Monday was organised by the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters.

According to the Senate President, freedom of speech and the inalienable rights of man are issues that should not be compromised under any guise.

He added that it was in the spirit of ensuring the protection of individual rights in Nigeria that the Senate referred the bill to its committee for legislative work, so as to get the input of all concerned Nigerians.

Lawan, therefore, urged all stakeholders present at the hearing to be open-minded, dispassionate and tolerant of opposing views on the bill.

He said, “This hearing is a crucial one because the Bill has generated a lot of passion. The passion is not unexpected because the Bill relates to the Internet. The Internet has become central to our lives, as it has reshaped how we live, work and how we interact.

“Like every other innovation, it has had its positive and negative sides. While it has somewhat made communication easier, faster and even cheaper, it has also affected our ability to easily trust some information.

“When this kind of situation arises, we should interrogate all the sides in the divides on a continuous basis. Doing this will lead to a better understanding of the dimensions and provide an agreeable way forward.”

The Senate President insisted that the National Assembly has never assumed the position of knowing it all.

He stressed that the rules and procedures of the lawmakers do not even envisage a position where they would arrogate themselves knowledge of everything.

Lawan explained that the Senate’s decision to refer the bill to the relevant committee in November 2019 was to open discussion on the piece of legislation.

According to him, a public hearing of the sort will avail the Senate the opportunity of sampling all shades of opinion on the bill.

The Senate President stated that for the country to experience peace, growth and development, Nigerians must engage each other on ways to address the excesses and limitations that were consequences of the abuse of freedom.

He said, “It is pursuant to our procedure to open up discussions that we have invited you all. In assembling here today however, we need to remember that there are multiple positions on every argument.

“This implies that we should not just be open minded and dispassionate, but should be ready to hear the other side, no matter how strong we feel about our own position.”

Social Media Bill: To Just Post Anything Is Unacceptable – Keyamo

A file photo of Mr Festus Keyamo.

 

 

The Minister of State for Labour and Productivity, Mr Festus Keyamo, believes regulating the posts on social media is the way to go in order to bring sanity into the society.

Keyamo stated this in a series of tweets on Monday in reaction to the proposal of the Social Media Bill by the National Assembly.

He took a swipe at those condemning the bill and asked them to unblock and apologise to those who irritated them with insults.

READ ALSO: Social Media Bill Passes Second Reading In Senate

Although the minister did not support the death penalty for hate speech, he insisted that posting false information on social media was dangerous for the nation.

He stressed that there should be some penal consequences for those who deliberately go online to post false stories under the umbrella of freedom of speech.

The Social Media Bill has sparked mixed reactions from individuals and groups within and outside Nigeria.

Read Keyamo’s tweets below:

NHRC Rejects Social Media Bill, Takes Stand With Nigerians

 

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has kicked against the Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulations Bill, also known as the Social Media Bill which has scaled second reading in the Senate.

According to it’s Executive Secretary, Tony Ojukwu said the commission stands with the opposition of Nigerians while urging those who exercise their rights to do so with caution.

“We stand with Nigerians and we believe that the media space should be free, people should be able to air their views, in doing so, and we urge those who exercise their rights to be mindful of the rights of others.”

READ ALSO: 25-Year-Old Manufactures, Unveils Nigeria’s First ‘Carbon Fibre’ Sports Car

The NHRC boss urged social media users to show commitments to responsibility and ensure that the rights of others are not breached.

“In exercising our freedom to express ourselves, we believe that those freedoms should be expressed and utilized responsibly and we will not encourage irresponsible conduct on the part of Nigerians but we don’t support the gaging of Nigerians in any way possible.

“We urge social media users to show commitments to responsibility and if they exceed their bounds, the laws are there for anybody who feels aggrieved can use.”

PHOTOS: Protesters Storm National Assembly Over Hate Speech Bill

 

Civil society groups on Wednesday protested against the proposed Hate Speech Bill, Social Media Bill and also demanded the immediate release of Mr. Omoyele Sowore who has been in the custody of the Department of State Services despite being granted bail by the court.

The protest tagged #SayNoToHateSpeechBill took place at the National Assembly gate.

Protesters stormed the National Assembly in their numbers early on Wednesday, many bearing placards and banners with “#SAY NO TO SOCIAL MEDIA BILL” and “#SAY NO TO HATE SPEECH BILL” boldly inscribed on them.

READ ALSO: Senate To Tackle Electoral Violence, Condemns Killing Of Kogi PDP Woman Leader

A bill to set up a commission for the prohibition of hate speeches was introduced on the floor of the Senate earlier in the month.

The Bill which is sponsored by the former Senate spokesman, Senator Abdullahi Sabi, was listed on the order paper and has passed first reading on Tuesday, November 12.

According to the lawmakers, the object and purpose for which the Commission is established eliminate all forms of hate speeches in Nigeria, and to advise the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on all aspects thereof.

The Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulations Bill which is also known as the Social Media Bill passed the second reading in the Senate on Wednesday, November 20.

The bill passed second reading with support from a majority of the Senate.

This was despite opposition to the proposed legislation by Nigerian citizens who are of the opinion that the bill seeks to fight free speech.

During the debate, only one lawmaker, Senator Chimaroke Nnamani opposed the bill.

He argued that there is legislation in the country namely the Cyber Crimes Act which addresses internet falsehood.

The Senate, however, directed its committee on the judiciary to work on the bill and return in four weeks.

NANS Warns FG Over Hate Speech, Social Media Bills

 

The national leadership of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) has cautioned the Federal Government over the proposed Social Media Bill and the Hate Speech Bill and called on Nigerians to raise their voices against the two bills.

At a press conference held at the Iweirohin House of the Nigeria Union of journalists in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, the National Public Relations Officer of the Association, Azeez Adeyemi, described the bills as anti-human which if allowed to stand could undermine the rights of Nigerians.

“Our attention has been drawn to an attempt by the federal government of Nigeria in connivance with a senator representing Niger-East, Senator Muhammad Sani Musa to silence the Nigeria populace especially the youth of which the students constitute it largest percentage through a social media bill,” he said.

“The bill had last week passed the second reading at the floor of the red chamber, which means it is on its way to becoming a law”.

“Part 3 (12) of the bill gives law enforcement agencies the power to shut down access to the internet and social media without recourse to the National Assembly or a court.”

“There is no doubt that the Nigerian government is all out to clamp down on critics of their anti-human policies and acts. However, any government going this way is gradually moving toward anarchy, a point Nigerian students will resist with every strength we have.”

Read Also: 50% Of Journalists Could Be Jailed If Hate Speech Bill Is Passed, Says Rep Member

“In a related development, through Sen. Sabi Abdullahi (APC, Deputy Chief Whip), the Nigerian government is also backing a Hate Speech Bill, otherwise called the ‘Prohibition of Hate Speech Bill’.”

He believes that the bills could infringe on the fundamental rights of Nigerians.

“These bills are tactical moves to shut the ordinary man, youths and the journalist to pave way for their impunity.”

“If this bill is allowed to thrive, the government will be vested with the sole power to determine what a hate speech is, and as a result witch shunt opponents and even journalists.”

“On this note, Nigerian students stand firm against the social media bill in totality and every other thing it might stand for.”

“We have students in other countries of the world but they will never be caged the way the Nigerian government is trying to muscle us as if they want the world to end in this century.”

“Even when the social media bill is yet to be passed into law, lawmakers are beginning to witch shunt our students who talk about their anti-masses behaviours on social media.”

“It should be noted that only a students/elite could identify most of these wicked act of politicians as some of them pose to be good intentions even when they meant the opposite.”

An injury to one is an injury to others

“As we speak, one of our students, a second-year student in the Department of Science and Technology Education, Bayero University,
Yahuza Tijjani is currently in prison custody for speaking his mind on his Facebook wall allegedly against a member of the state assembly. ”

“He was picked since September 30, 2019, after posting the following on his Facebook wall “You know he’s not well educated, as a result of which he doesn’t know how to calculate figures. He said 1230, he later said 1500 and at the ended saying 2000.”

“In another post, Tijjani also wrote, “I pray to God almighty that the election petition tribunal [will] declare the election of state’s assembly member representing Madobi as inconclusive”.

“For posting the above, the lawmaker through the police got Tijani arrested, make him spend seven days at the state criminal investigation department, Police ‘Zone 1’ regional headquarters in Kano state before he was sent to jail by the magistrate.”

“However, the lawmaker, Kabiru Is’mail, and Tijjanis are natives of Madobi Local Government Area.”

“Clearly, this is a complete case of inhumanity to man and such a power-drunk attitude will not be allowed against any of our students in the country. ”

“To this end, we appeal to the said Hon. Kabiru Is’mail to as a matter of urgency release Tijjanis within the next 72 hours or joined the list of enemies of our students as we are ready to fight any oppressor to stand still on this issue.”

“We, however, enjoin our students in Kano state to remain calm and not take laws into their own hands as we shall confront when the time for that comes.”

“The National President of NANS, Com. Danielson Akpan has, however, directed that state Chairmen of NANS with indigenous students associations should stage a peaceful protest to their different state assemblies after which there will be a national students protest to the National Assembly against this anti masses bill,” he concluded.

‘I Believe In Freedom Of Expression’, Says Senator Behind Social Media Bill

 

The sponsor of the Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulations Bill, also known as the Social Media Bill, Mr Mohammed Sani Musa, has said that he believes in freedom of speech and expression.

He said this on Wednesday while explaining the idea behind the proposed bill.

According to him, the reason for proposing the bill had nothing to do with gagging the press.

“My reason for bringing this bill actually is not to gag the press, I believe in the freedom of expression or freedom of speech,” he said on Channels TV’s Politics Today.

Read Also: Social Media Bill Passes Second Reading In Senate

He, however, explained that information spreads at the speed of light on social media and some people have taken advantage of that to spread false news.

“I am one person that believes in the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“I believe also in the fundamental freedom of everyone and for every Nigerian to express his views as he wishes.

“The social media is a kind of network that disseminates information at the speed of light and for that reason, whatever we will do as a country or nation, we should be guided by some ethical conduct.

“In using social media today, you can see what has been happening,” he said.

Musa further explained that although the Constitution allows for freedom of expression, some regulative measures have to be put in place to curb the menace of fake news.

“As much as the Constitution guarantees this freedom, the Constitution also gives some adequate clauses, that will protect from any abuse of these laws.

“So, my bill is not to gag the press, but the regulate in a way in which we can conduct ourselves in the most civilized way using the internet,” he said.

Read Also: Social Media Regulation: FG Not Attempting To Gag The Media – Lai Mohammed

His comments come hours after the bill passed its second reading at the floor of the Senate.

This is despite opposition to the proposed legislation by Nigerian citizens who are of the opinion that the bill seeks to stifle free speech.

During the debate, only one lawmaker, Senator Chimaroke Nnamani opposed the bill. He argued that there is legislation in the country namely the Cyber Crimes Act which addresses internet falsehood.

The Senate, however, directed its Committee on Judiciary to work on the bill and return in four weeks.

Social Media Bill Passes Second Reading In Senate

 

The Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulations Bill also known as the Social Media Bill has passed second reading in the Senate.

The bill on Wednesday passed second reading with support by majority of Senators.

This is despite opposition to the proposed legislation by Nigerian citizens who are of the opinion that the bill seeks to fight free speech.

READ ALSO: Senator Vows To Go Ahead With Bill To Establish Prohibition Of Hate Speech

During the debate, only one lawmaker, Senator Chimaroke Nnamani opposed the bill. He argued that there is legislation in the country namely the Cyber Crimes Act which addresses internet falsehood.

The Senate, however directed its committee on judiciary to work on the bill and return in four weeks.

The bill was introduced to the Senate on Tuesday, November 5, 2019.

According to the sponsor of the bill, Mohammed Sani Musa, a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) representing Niger East Senatorial District, it will regulate the use of social media in Nigeria and curb fake news on the internet.

A similar anti-social media bill introduced by the previous eighth Senate, sparked outrage across the country, and was later withdrawn.

The bill, if passed into law, seeks to prevent falsehoods and manipulations and counter the effects of such communications and transmission to sanction offenders with a view of encouraging and enhancing transparency by social media platforms using the internet correspondences.

Social Media Bill Is Dead On Arrival – Saraki

SarakiThe so-called social media bill, sponsored by the Deputy Majority Leader, Senator Ibn Nallah, may not see the light of day.

This is because the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki says the bill is dead on arrival and is going nowhere.

The Senate President was the chief speaker at the Social Media Week in Lagos where the issues of the 2015 general elections and the major influencers were discussed.

Dr Saraki said that the Senate and the major users of the social media in Nigeria are on the same page and will not be paid back badly for their efforts in seeing off the last government.

“As far as I am concerned, we are all on the same side. It is like any bill, it has to go through processes. I am sure that many bills, content of those bills will not even pass second reading.

“I strongly believe that there is a role of the social media platform in our governance. You’ve helped in the election, you’ve helped in improving governance. So I don’t think there is anybody who will want to ensure you don’t play that role.

“There is no perfection in any group. Among politicians there are the good ones and bad ones. I am sure in the social media, you will see those that are responsible and those that are irresponsible.

“What is important for us is to focus on the bigger picture. Don’t let those other issues distract us. That bill is going nowhere, its dead on arrival,” Dr Saraki said.

N8 Billion Has Been Refunded To Government Treasury – Melaye

dino melaye on Government's treasuryA Member of the Nigerian Senate has said that about N8 billion has been refunded back to the treasury of government and more monies will be refunded.

“As I speak to you, about eight billion Naira has been refunded back to the treasury of government and I know more monies will be refunded”, he said.

Speaking on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily, Senator Dino Melaye said that ” basically, I want to say that when I raised this motion on the floor of the Senate, I got a lot of insults on social media, everywhere, that I was blabbing and there was no truth in the content of my presentation.

“But I tweeted that the truth has no colour and every lie has an expiry date.

“I want to thank God that I have been vindicated by the public hearing where my revelations on the floor of the Senate have given room for confession even by the Central Bank of Nigeria’s Governor, Godwin Emefiele”, he said.

While answering a question on how he got an insight on the alleged illegality and exorbitant commission charged for the deployment of Remita, the Senator said that “I will want to say that the Treasury Single Account (TSA) is a very laudable program which is going to help blocking leakages and I support it.

“My prayer on the day I moved the motion was to commend President Muhammadu Buhari for an implementation of the TSA, but I was challenging that the instrumentality of the TSA is being used by some individuals to undercut Nigerians and our national patrimony”, he claimed.

Senator Melaye had argued that the use of Remita was a violation of Section 162(1) of the constitution, which stated that “the federation shall maintain a special account to be called the federation account into which all revenues collected by the government of the federation except the proceeds from the personal income tax of the personnel of the Armed Forces of the Federation, the Nigeria Police Force, the ministry or department of government charged with foreign affairs and the residents of the FCT, Abuja”.

He further stated that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) could only appoint a registered bank as an agent for collecting and disbursing the funds.

The Senator said that since Remita was not a bank, its appointment as a collection agent was in violation of the CBN Act and the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act (BOFIA) 2007.

Giving his view on the amount he would recommend for private bodies for doing government jobs, Senator Melaye said that “the Senate is geared towards blocking leakages and also negotiating to the barest minimum, the advantage of Nigerians and the national treasury.

“We are not saying that private companies engaged in almost all platforms used by the government shouldn’t be paid, but what we are saying is that nothing outrageous should be paid at the detriment of our national purse”, he said.

“Anti-Social Media Bill”

The Senator also cleared the ground on the Social Media Bill by saying “there is nothing called the social media bill and there is no such bill before the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria; at least the 8th Senate.

“I want to assure you that the 8th Senate were operating on the three cardinal objective of the agenda (the first, second and third agenda focuses on the people)”, he explained.

Social Media Bill Is Unnecessary, Adamolekun Says

Yemi-Ademolekun on social media billA bill being considered by the Senate that is aimed at regulating the use of social media networks for publication of abusive statements that could be considered defamatory or slanderous is unnecessary, Yemi Adamolekun of Enough is Enough says.

Adamolekun said that the Nigerian Constitution had already provided for such situations in laws that proscribe different punishments for defamation and slander.

The proposed bill, which had passed its second reading in the Senate has triggered protest, with protesters saying that the bill would take away Nigerian’s right to their opinions and free speech against the excesses of government officials.

On Sunrise Daily on Wednesday, Adamolekun said she had not seen any reason the social media should be regulated.

“If you look at this bill, as a standalone bill, you already have laws that check what they are trying to check. So why do you need another law?

“The Cyber Crime Act that was passed by the last administration was used to punish some persons.

“Also part of the challenge of that bill is the vagueness of it. For you a word could be abusive while to others it could be a joke.

“I could suddenly decide that it is abusive and send you to jail,” she explained.

She expressed fears that the attention that the Senate had given to the bill made it looked like they actually wanted to stop Nigerians from raising issues with their way of governing the nation.

On the issue of regulation, she further said that owners of blogs and other social media networks regulate their pages to ensure that abusive words were filtered, stressing that bloggers could be prosecuted for slander or defamation.

“If I have a blog and you right something about someone that is not correct, I have the right to delete it.

“Focus should be on moderation of social networks and not on regulation, considering the fact that it is a platform where Nigerians have the freedom to express themselves especially when it comes to government officials. They are not used to people challenging what they do, how they behave and how they spend our money,” she explained.

Insisting that the problem is not regulation, Adamolekun suggested that what should be increased was surveillance of a certain type to ensure that what people share would not affect the security of the nation.

“Not the regulation but how to access information and conduct surveillance legally to guard against security issues,” she further stressed.

Civil Society Groups Reject Social Media Bill

Social Media BillA coalition of Civil Society Organizations have led a protest to the National Assembly asking for the discontinuation of the passage of an anti Social Media Bill.

The Senate last week Wednesday passed to second reading, a bill seeking two years imprisonment with an option of two million naira fine for any Nigerian who posts abusive statements on Social Media.

The protesters say by criminalizing free speech, the bill directly contravenes the universal declaration of Human Rights and the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria.

The protesters demanded to meet with the leadership of the Senate to press home their demand.

A delegation from the Senate met with the protesters and promised to present their demands to the Senate.

Social Media Bill: Buhari Restates Commitment To Free Speech

Social MediaPresident Muhammadu Buhari has reiterated the commitment of his administration to the protection of free speech in keeping with democratic tradition.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu said this while reacting to the public hostility towards the social media bill being debated by the Senate.

He said that President Buhari has sworn to defend the constitution of Nigeria and would not lend his hand to anything that is inconsistent with the constitution, “but he is not averse to lawful regulation, so long as that is done within the ambit of the constitution which he swore to uphold.”

The President said free speech is central to democratic societies anywhere in the world. The President explained that without free speech, elected representatives will not be able to gauge public feelings and moods about governance issues.

“As a key component of democratic principles,” the President acknowledged that people in democratic societies “are so emotionally attached to free speech that they would defend it with all their might”.

Mr Garba Shehu explained that President Buhari is fully aware of the public reservations about the proposed legislation but assured that there is no cause for alarm “because the Senate is a democratic senate.

“The President won’t assent to any legislation that may be inconsistent with the constitution of Nigeria.”