The controversial frivolous petition bill, known as anti-social media bill, has been withdrawn by the senate on Tuesday, May 17.
The bill, sponsored by Bala Ibn Na’Allah – an APC lawmaker from Kebbi state – many believe, was aimed at restricting freedom of expression.
Nigeria’s upper chamber announced the decision at plenary after David Umar, chairman of the senate Committee on Human Rights and Legal Matters presented his committee’s report.
Umar, an All Progressives Congress (APC) senator from Niger state, said his committee recommended the withdrawal of the bill based on the strong opposition to it across the country.
The report made it clear the bill amounted to violation of citizens’ rights, and contradicted extant laws, imposing duty of investigation on petitioners and serving as stumbling block to the fight against corruption.
Senator Umar therefore said, his committee recommended its withdrawal. Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over the plenary, also backed the withdrawal.
The anti-social media bill imposed harsh penalties for tweets or text messages that conveyed statements considered untrue from a group of persons to an institution of government.
Introduction of the bill sparked widespread outrage across the country. The bill had been thoroughly criticized by an active social media community that described it as attempting to gag free speech and abuse the rights of Nigerians as enshrined in the constitution.
The bill was described as vague with the intent to repress dissent against the government. Civil societies groups embarked on campaigns to stop the bill from being passed.
Also at the plenary session, the senate endorsed the Federal Government’s decision to peg the pump price of petrol at N145 per litre.
The Senate called on the government to parley labour unions to forestall the threatened strike. Ekweremadu said that the Senate sympathized with Nigerians for the hardship which the new prices of petrol will cause and called on the government to implement the palliatives.