CSOs, MDAs reject social media regulation bill

By Isa Amodu, Abuja
Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), student groups, the Media, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), among others on Monday rejected the social media regulation bill.
They observed that the bill would gag public speech in the country.
Representatives of the groups who spoke against passing the bill into law at a public hearing in Abuja organised by Senate Committee on Judiciary and Legal Matters said the bill was a proliferation of existing laws.
They said the bill,if passed, would further help violate human rights in the country.
The bill, entitled: “Protection from Internet Falsehood Manipulations and other Related Matters Bill 2019”, was sponsored by Sen. Mohammed Musa (APC Niger).
The bill had passed through second reading at the Senate on Nov. 20, 2019.
First to speak against the bill was Mr Chris Isiguzo, President Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ).
Isiguzo said the bill, if passed, would restrict free expression of Nigerians, noting that NUJ was opposed to the bill.
He said the bill was further proliferation of the existing laws,like the penal code among others.
He, however, said fake news had done more harm,noting that effort should be made to regulate platforms and not the users.
Executive Vice-Chairman, NCC, Prof. Umar Danbatta, said NCC was involved in providing infrastructure for hosting of internet domain in Nigeria and do not to regulate the internet.
He said certain aspects of the bill could infringe on the rights of Nigerians.
He allayed fears that the bill gave so much power to the Nigerian Police Force, noting also that the bill was a duplication of existing laws.
Dr Clement Nwankwo, Director, Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC) said the bill was completely unnecessary.
He said the bill, if passed, would impinge on the right of Nigerians and further empower the security agencies to further impinge on the right of Nigerians.
Other CSOs that spoke against the bill said the bill, if passed would further create unemployment to Nigerian youths working in the digital space and diminish the essence of nationhood in Nigeria.
Others that spoke against the bill and called for its discountance are representatives of Broadcasting Organisations of Nigeria (BON), African Independent Television (AIT), Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) and Publisher of Sahara Reporters, Omoyere Soyere, among others.