TRENDING: #SayNoToSocialMediaBill: Nigerians condemn Senate’s move to regulate social media

Nigerian senate chambers where senators attend plenary
Nigerian senate chambers

The #SayNoToSocialMediaBill was on Friday one of the most trending issues on Twitter in Nigeria.

The trend shows the reaction of many Nigerians on the plan of the Senate to regulate the use of social media as well as curb fake news on the internet.

The bill, ‘Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulations Bill, 2019′, which was sponsored by Sani Musa a fortnight ago, scaled second reading on the floor of the Senate on Thursday.

In making a case for his sponsorship of the bill, Mr Musa said the bill has no intent to gag the media or silent free speech. Rather, he said, it seeks to check the spread of false information on the internet.

“It is rather an opportunity to address the growing threats which, if left unchecked, can cause serious damage to our polity and disrupt peaceful existence,” he said.

With a total of 36 clauses, the bill prescribes up to N300,000 fine for an individual and up to N10 million for corporate organisations found guilty of spreading false content.

The bill joins another one already on the floor of the House, which prescribes death by hanging for anyone whose hate speech results in the death of another.

When the Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, put the debate on the former to a voice vote, a higher number of the lawmakers approved it.

Top of those in this camp are senators Ibrahim Gobir (APC, Sokoto East), Bala Ibn Na’Allah (APC, Kebbi South), Abba Moro (PDP, Benue South) and Elisha Abbo (PDP, Adamawa North), who was recently caught on video physically assaulting a woman in a sex toy shop.

EXCLUSIVE: Nigerian senator caught on camera assaulting woman at sex toy shop

However, Chimaroke Nnamani (PDP, Enugu East) opposed it.

Having scaled second reading, the bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Judiciary, which has four weeks to complete its legislative groundwork, one of which is conducting a public hearing on the bill.

Already, Nigeria is one of the countries red-flagged on the 2019 World Press Freedom Index. Slipping by a spot the previous year, the country, with an index of 36.5, now ranks 120th of the 180 worst countries for freedom of expression.

A recent report also indicates that attacks on the press have worsened under the Buhari administration.

Nigerians fear that this reality might get worse. Some of the commenters are specifically concerned that attention given to the passage of the bill is not redirected to more pressing matters like poverty and unemployment.

Others seek to know what and who determines what hate speech is. They, therefore, called on Senate to back down on the bill.

See some of the reactions of Nigerians below.

I, Joe Abah, #SayNoToSocialMediaBill. It is a grievous infringement on the Constitutional right to free speech. We must be able to speak our minds, even when we are wrong or mistaken, without fear of intimidation, harassment or incarceration by the State.

I hope all the Senators from South Western Nigeria will #SayNoToSocialMediaBill. You are in parliament to represent us. You are in parliament to legislate on progressive policies per health, education, infrastructural development and job creation. Not to stifle criticisms.

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

List of problems in Nigeria:

1. Unemployment

2. Inflation

3. Poverty and hunger

4. Bad Transport system

5. Internal security failures

6. Diseases and poor health care.

But these elected leaders and officials would rather shut your voice to speak truth.

#SayNoToSocialMediaBill

This is Elisha Abbo. A Nigerian Senator. Caught on camera physically assaulting a woman in a sex toy shop. His would have been covered if not for social media. He isn’t in jail yet. He wants to silence social media to enable him continue assaulting. We #SayNoToSocialMediaBill

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

I, Bukky Shonibare, #SayNoToSocialMediaBill.

It’s a grievous infringement on the Constitutional right to free speech. We must be able to speak our minds, even when we are wrong or mistaken, without fear of intimidation, harassment or incarceration by the State.

What do you say?

The Bill is a replication of Singapore’s Protection from Online Falsehoods & Manipulation Act 2019 signed into law in June.

Meanwhile, Singapore is a very bad example to copy from, it ranks 151 out of 180 in

@RSF_en ‘World Press Freedom Index’.

#SayNoToSocialMediaBill

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

Good morning ! Hope all is well. Well it’s not. If the social media bill passes law enforcement agencies have the right to shut down internet at any time.This means if we are shouting about something our government is doing.They can TURN OFF our internet! #SayNoToSocialMediaBill

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