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I didn’t consult anyone before introducing social media bill, says Senator

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Nigerian lawmaker Senator Sani Musa said he did not consult anyone before introducing the controversial social media bill.

“When I conceived this Bill I did not consult with anybody,” a tweet on the Nigerian Senate’s handle quoted Musa to have said during a public hearing on the bill in Abuja. The public hearing was attended by Nigerian lawmakers, civil society organisations, politicians and journalists.

“I have been in social media for the past 15/17 years and I know the impact.”

Christened ‘The Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulation Bill 2019’, the Social Media Bill was introduced by Musa in early November 2019.

The bill which already scaled through second reading at the Nigeria Senate has been widely criticised by Nigerians, with many saying it was a plot to stifle freedom of expression in the country.

Musa, however, said the bill does not intend to gag the media but to check the spread of false information on the internet.

In the bill, Musa proposed N300,000 fine for an individual if found guilty; and up to N10 million for corporate organisations.

If passed into law, the bill empowers the Nigerian government to unilaterally order the shutdown of the internet.

At the public hearing, Musa said internet regulation is also part of many ways the government can improve in securing the country.

“National security is one factor that must be taken into consideration,” Musa said. “I am fully a stakeholder in the Nigerian project and I believe that Nigeria needs a legal framework that will guide our social media space.”

Musa argued that the current social space in Nigeria is not considerate of ‘minors’ and needs to be ‘sanitised’ by the proposed legislation.

“The protection of minors is zero in our social media space in Nigeria,” Musa said.

But while debate and deliberations of the bill intensified, Musa walked out of the venue of the hearing. Sources told our correspondents that the Senate may drop the bill due to the rejection from the public.


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