Saraki Defends Social Media Censorship Bill, Says People Must Be Held Responsible For Their Action

Bukola SarakiIn spite of criticism trailing the ongoing bill by the Senate to censor social media in the country, Senate President Bukola Saraki on Thursday vowed that the Red Chamber would not back down from passing the proposed law.

Saraki, who noted that social media was a major ingredient for the growth of democracy in the country, however, said the Senate could no longer ignore the fact that it was being abused by some elements.

Speaking yesterday when Senator Dino Melaye (APC/Kogi West) raised the issue under matters of urgent importance, during the day’s plenary, the Senate president lamented activities of some social media platforms, which he said, had published numerous materials to undermine the integrity of the red chamber.

While faulting the backlash the proposed social media censorship bill has generated, Senate President Saraki insisted that senators cannot be blackmailed to drop the bill.

Saraki, while acknowledging the excesses of some of the social media users, however, stressed the existence of freedom of speech in the nation’s law book.

Even as he advised that the social media should be fair and accurate in their reportage, Saraki said the Senate cannot let “a few bad eggs” taint the image of the social media.

“People must be held responsible for their action. I believe what has been raised is important”, Saraki said.

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  • PROPOSED SOCIAL MEDIA LAW: Government Already Singing the Song of Own Failure?

    After using the social media to rise to the heights, the government of the day now wants to introduce a law that would undermine the freedom of expression of the mass of Nigerians. Is this a sign of incapacity or something? Should this be a thing of major concern to the country or could the government have been more relevant to society? No one knows what exactly they want to do.

    It seems the government aims at blocking every channel that would promote its critics as it proposes a two-year jail term or an option of NGN2,000,000.00 about ($10,000) for ‘would-be violators’. Whether they want to partly criminalise the use of social media or to block access to same, it is hoped that the Senate would thread with caution on this. It is not just about the social media; the use of the conventional media to abuse others should equally be addressed. By-the-way, what about their abuse of public offices and the use of official powers against others? What penalty do they get? What happens if somebody has said the evil facts about you: the elite, public office holders, politicians and businessmen on the social media? Would that still amount to abuse?

    In any case, let’s hope that whatever law the government proposes and consequently enacts does not interfere with the ingenuity of Nigerian sharp brains in IT, as well as R&D activities in the country. Howbeit, one thing I am sure of is that Nigerian IT gurus will overwhelm the government in any move to stop their progression.

    The bill, which has already passed second reading in the senate seems to be worrisome and dangerous. Perhaps the government does not know that the social media is like an easy and open access to knowledge, despite its negative implications. If the law aims at inhibiting the negative implications of social media that would be fine, but if it in any way undermines innovative ideas of users then it may eventually backfire. Therefore, government MUST be cautious not to adopt the communist ideology which it seems to be following because Nigeria is-and-remains a democracy as currently constituted.

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