Nigerians react to the country’s Minister of information, Lai Mohammed bold denial of the social media bill being passed into law in the country, despite the abundance of proofs about its existence.
The Social Media bill which is also known as the Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulation Bill 2019, sparked a lot of discussion in the country after it passed the second reading in the Nigerian senate.
The bill if passed will give sweeping power to the government to clamp down on critics and also shut down the internet.
Senator Muhammad Sani Musa of the ruling All Progressives Congress was the sponsor of this bill which had passed the first and second readings on November 5 and 20 respectively.
However, during an interview with the state-owned German broadcaster, Deutsche Welle, Mohammed has said to him that he was unaware of such a bill and that the bill is not before the Nigerian Senate.
“I’m not even aware of the bill,” Mohammed told DW’s Tim Sebastian in London also adding that “there is no such bill before the House. I can say that with relative authority.”
Contrary to his claims, the government did say they were going to pass the Social Media bill which aims at clamping down on the proliferation of hate speech and fake news.
A section of the bill prescribes a fine of N300,000 or three-year jail term or both for anyone found guilty of making statements that “diminish public confidence in the performance of any duty or function, or in the exercise of any power of the Government.”
A section of the bill gives law enforcement agencies the power to shut down access to the internet and social media without recourse to the National Assembly or a court.
The section says:
Law Enforcement Department may direct the NCC to order the internet access provider to take reasonable steps to disable access by end-users in Nigeria to the online location (called in this Clause an access blocking order), and NCC must give the internet access provider an access blocking order (emphasis ours).
Any internet service provider that refuses to obey the order on conviction by a court may be fined N10 million for each day the order is not obeyed.
Critics of the bill have pointed out that the content and actions of such a bill will not only hinder the freedom of speech in the country but will also put a lot of journalists in danger.
Well, Nigerians are not impressed with the minister of information ways of lies, as most of them took to social media platforms to express their disappointment.
Here are some of their tweets: