Social Media Bill: Senate under fire

Criticism went towards the Senate of the federal republic of Nigeria Monday in Abuja by participants at the Social Media Summit.

The attacks launched at the Senate at the summit which held in the Auditorium of the Nigerian Airforce dwelled on the Bill prohibiting hate speech sponsored by Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi ( APC Niger North ) , proposing death penalty for offenders if eventually passed into law .

First to criticise the bill in its entirety and capital punishment prescribed, was the Chief Executive Officer of an event establishment, Mr Miebaka Adoki, who said, “What Nigeria needed now is not busybody legislation but development driven ones.”

According to him, relevant laws of the land are there to take care of anything categorised as hate speech and besides , prescribing death penalty for that is complete hatred against freedom of speech itself which is unacceptable in a democracy.

“The bill is unwanted and not desirable in anyway. The social media needs to be regulated but not gagged under whatever guise .

“There are far more important issues in the land requiring legislative interventions that are not being addressed by the Senator sponsoring the Hate Speech bill or the Senate entertaining it,” he said.

He explained that the summit was organised to enlighten and empower the youths on how to make maximum benefits from the usage of mobile phones and other devices used for social media.

Also in his remarks at the occasion, a Professor from India and blogger, Kiruba Shankar, said in as much as regulating the social media was necessary in tackling fake news and other forms of recklessness, prescribing death for such, was too high a price for anybody to pay.

“As government is trying to regulate social media in Nigeria , so also it is in India , but nobody is talking of death penalty for offence committed .

“The Nigerian Senate will have to in considering any bill before it in that respect, remove any provision that is draconian.

“The social media is a viable platform needed by any country whose people cherish freedom of speech , the very reason why we are here today to further encourage the Nigerian youths to make the best out of it in terms of effective communication and digital know-how,” he said.

In his own remarks, the Speaker of the Nigerian Youth Parliament , Hon Ulaka Adams said no amount of draconian legislation will take the social media away from the Nigeria media space.

“Any move to gag the press and in particular, the social media in Nigeria will be vehemently resisted . The earlier the Senate throws away any bill before it aiming at that , the better “, he said .

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