This week, Nigerian senators moved a bill designed to silence free speech on social media. The proposed bill to “Prohibit Frivolous Petitions and Other Matters Connected Therewith” which particularly earmarks users of social and electronic media, has drawn countless criticisms from Nigerians of all ages.
As the ongoing bill by the Senate designed to muzzle free speech on social media in the country continues to amass deep criticism, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, has revealed that even in the face of all the impertinence and castigation which the bill is presently attracting, nothing would make the Red Chamber drop the proposed law.
Saraki, who noted the importance of the social media in the advancement of the country’s growing democracy, stated nonetheless, that the Senate would not watch a few people take advantage of the platform.
While issuing a statement on Thursday during the day’s plenary, when Senator Dino Melaye, APC, Kogi West, brought up the issue under matters of immediate importance, the Senate President blew up at the activities of some social media platforms, which according to him, had published many materials which have damaged the effectiveness and integrity of the Red Chamber.
While condemning the slams that the proposed social media censorship bill had drawn, Saraki stood his ground that senators cannot be compromised with the many assaults and neither will they be pushed to dump the bill.
Saraki clarified that the bill will not stifle freedom of speech in the nation’s law book but will not tolerate the abuse and excesses of some social media users.
At the same time, he urged that the social media should be fair and correct in all details in their reportage, and stated that the Senate cannot let a few bad and dishonest users blacken the image of the social media. In the words of Saraki:
“People must be held responsible for their action. I believe what has been raised is important.
However, if this bill is passed in Nigeria which seems one step closer to becoming law already, it could affect an estimated 15 million plus Nigerians who use social media, not to mention the doubtless high numbers of Nigerians who send text messages.