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Social Media Bill: Civic groups ask Senate to publish report of public hearing

The entire African continent and the world are watching to see how Nigeria deals with this important issue.

• November 12, 2020
Nigerian Senate floor
Nigerian Senate floor (Credit: Nigeria Guardian)

Press Release

The undersigned civil society organisations condemn the attempts by some persons with the tacit support of the Nigerian authorities to agitate the country towards an unnecessary regulation of the social media.

Recently, it was alleged that the Northern Governors’ Forum called for the regulation of social media, and similarly, raised before the Lagos State House of Assembly.

We wish to restate that the regulation of the social media is antithetical to democratic norms across the world, just as it is a blatant attempt to infringe on citizens’ right to freedom of expression. 

Regulating social media will not only further shrink our civic space but will also prove to the world that Nigeria does not honour its commitments to the various international human rights instruments to which it is a recognized signatory. 

More importantly, we consider the lingering silence of the Nigerian Senate regarding the report of the public hearing on the social media bill since the 9th of March 2020, to be of great disservice to the Nigerian people. 

There has never been a more important time for the Senate to make public the content of the report on the public hearing on the social media bill, led by Senator Opeyemi Bamidele’s Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters. 

We, therefore, remind the Nigerian Senate that its primary responsibility is to serve the Nigerian people and to advance policies that are genuinely tailored to enhance public good. And so, we unreservedly call on the Senate to make the committee’s report following the public hearing, public as a matter of urgency and responsibility. 

We further reiterate the fact that the social media bill was overwhelmingly rejected during the public hearing and this should be adequately represented in the committee’s report. We expect that the said bill would subsequently be removed from further consideration upon the publication of the committee’s report. 

We remind the authorities that there are many democratic ways through which the Nigerian government can deal with the menace of fake news and misinformation in our society without eroding human rights. Such tools and processes should not stifle the voices of citizens or create punitive legislation.

The entire African continent and the world are watching to see how Nigeria deals with this important issue. We hope our leaders would stand with the people for the sake of peace and unity in our beloved country.

SIGNED:

1. Centre for Liberty (CFL)

2. Dinidari Foundation

3. Dorothy Njemanze Foundation (DNF)

4. FEMBUD

5. Centre for Impact Advocacy

6. Mojirayo Ogunlana-Nkanga (Media and Press Freedom Advocate

7. Lex Initiative for Rights Advocacy and Development (LIRAD)

8. Raising New Voices Initiative

9. TechHerNG

10. Invictus Africa

11. Education as a Vaccine

12. Women’s Health and Equal Rights Initiative (WHER)

13. Youth Concerns Development Foundation-Africa

14. Adopt A Goal Initiative

15. Concerned Nigerians Group

16. Free Nigeria Coalition

17. Mothers And Marginalised Advocacy Centre  (MAMA Centre)

18. TRIBE XX LAB

19. Sterling Centre for Law & Development

20. Access to Justice (A2J)

21. Enough is Enough (EiE)

22. Center for Fairness on Public Administration (CFPA)

23. Stand To End Rape Initiative (STER)

24. GlobalRights

25. Haly Hope Foundation

26. Girl Child Enlightenment and Intervention Centre (GCEIC)

27. YIAGA AFRICA

28. The Interactive Initiative for Social Impact.

29. Let’s Help Humanitarian Foundation

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