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Mind what you say on social media, Nigeria govt is watching you

disseminating information of your President, taking a picture of the President and putting it in an invitation card... it is wrong.


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The Nigerian Senate in session

In order to control the spread of fake news in Nigeria, the Nigerian senate has considered a bill which will make it impossible to spread fake and unverified news through the use of social media. 

The bill which is tagged ‘Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulations Bill, 2019’ is being sponsored by Mohammed Sani Musa.

The bill was read for the first time on Tuesday. 

Howevre, this is not the first time the Nigerian government is introducing a bill to censor the internet.

We would recall an old bill of same nature titled “A Bill for an Act to Prohibit Frivolous Petitions and other Matters Connected therewith” was also introduced by the previous senate, the Eight Senate, but was withdrawn after it sparked outrage across the country. 

The bill was sponsored by Bala Ibn Na’Allah and sought to compel critics to accompany their petitions with sworn court affidavit, or face six months imprisonment upon conviction.

Here is an excerpt of the response of the sponsore of the bill, Mr Musa while reacting to question fielded by pressmen. 

“I as an individual may decide to remain in my room or office and then draft something I know very well is false because I want to hit at someone. I will decide to draft and throw on social media. Waiting few seconds, it’s on there. Before you know it, it has been shared all over. I have a passion for IT and I know what it takes to disseminate your information, it is like the speed of light.

"It is a legislation that will guide how we can tolerate our activities on the social media. False information has been disseminated so many times and they have caused so many chaos in different parts of the World.

“I felt we need it in this country if countries like Philippines, Singapore, Italy, Malaysia, Australia, France, Indonesia, Egypt are putting control to prevent the spread of false information, what stops us from doing it? There has never been a time when Nigeria has been very fragile in terms of its unity than this period.

“It is not to stop people from going into the internet to do whatever they feel legitimately is okay to do but what we felt is wrong is for you to use the medium to document information that you know is false, just because you want to achieve your desirable interest.

"If one commits an offence of this nature, and by virtue of what was committed, the law enforcement agencies will take the person to the court, there will be a court process that will prove that the person has done something wrong.

“It will serve as deterrence to others, we should fix certain penalties that when you know you will cough out something, you won’t do it.

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“If today, you can disseminate information of your President, taking a picture of the President and putting it in an invitation card, giving false information of your President, the office is the highest seat in the land. It is sacrosanct. It is something we cannot see it as anyhow information and you think that is just part of freedom of information or there is liberalisation of Social Media so you can do anything. As far as I am concerned it is wrong.

“If anyone is caught with this kind of situation, you cough out between N150,000 to a maximum imprisonment of three years or both. And if it is a corporate organisation that refused to block that false information despite the fact that they have been alerted by authorities not to disseminate that information for public interest and they still go ahead to do it, refusing to do that blockage will be penalised between N5 million to N10 million for those organisations.

“For example, MTN, Glo, 9 mobile etc. which we use their platform in transmitting these information, if nothing is done, we fine them and you will see that it will be deterrence to others,” Musa said.

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