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 the 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 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.
It’s very obvious that the Social Media Bill is motivated by the discomfort experienced by corrupt senators, their plans to protect their self-interest & continue their corrupt acts.
This is a war against our freedom.
This is a war against our Power.
— Tife🌚 (@Tife_fabunmi) November 22, 2019
This year, Iran announced that it wanted to increase the price of fuel
Iranians protested and the government reacted by shutting down the internet in the country to stop the protest and isolate Iran from the world
This is what some people in power want#SayNoToSocialMediaBill
— Aproko Doctor™ (@aproko_doctor) November 22, 2019
This Social Media Bill is very worrisome. We're used to taking everything so lightly. I doubt most of us understand the implications of this if it gets passed. The things I've been reading are crazy. Freedom of speech is almost all the power we have left #SayNoToSocialMediaBill
— Simi (@SympLySimi) November 22, 2019
Incase you don't understand the legal jargons. Government wants to off our internet if we tweet "This Buhari sef…" They want to send people to jail for "false information" that's not explicitly defined. That is, they decide what is false. Biko,#SayNoToSocialMediaBill
— Baba Folarin (@That_IjebuBadoo) November 22, 2019
This is not a matter of belonging to APC, PDP or SDP.
It doesn't matter whether you are a Yoruba, Hausa, or Igbo.
It has nothing to do with you being a Muslim, Christian or Idol worshipper.
This is a war against you & I.
This is a war against our freedom.#SayNoToSocialMediaBill pic.twitter.com/eTSnv6BcRP
— B h a d o o s k y (@BhadmusAkeem) November 22, 2019
Not fulfilling electoral promises is also fake news & should be punishable by death. These idiots are testing our limit, they knew we are too comfortable ranting on social media only. Let's storm the street in thousands just ONCE, they won't dare us again#SayNoToSocialMediaBill
— Towolawi Jamiu (@jharmo) November 22, 2019