Sunday, March 3, 2024

Tinubu’s move to regulate social media “dangerous, oppressive”: Amnesty International

The human rights organisation added that the bill is purposed to “violate Nigerians’ human rights and gag civil society in the country.”

• February 9, 2024

Amnesty International, on Friday, described the statement by Femi Gbajabiamila, the chief of staff to President Bola Tinubu, to regulate social media as “dangerous and oppressive” 

Amnesty identified Sada Soli, an APC lawmaker from Katsina, as the brain behind the reintroduction of the law. 

The human rights organisation added that the bill is purposed to “violate Nigerians’ human rights and gag civil society in the country.”

“The bill poses a direct and serious threat to human rights and would exacerbate restriction of civic space, the rights to freedom of expression, assembly and association as well as media freedom in Nigeria,” Amnesty International said, condemning the latest push by the APC to regulate social media in the country amid severe economic hardship and hunger.
Amnesty International vowed to “vigorously campaign against this repressive and civil society gagging bill,” berating Mr Tinubu and his party for ignoring laws that could better the lives of citizens to “pushing to take away human rights, contrary to the Nigerian Constitution 1999 (as amended).”
Mr Gbajabiamila had called for social media regulation, describing it as a “societal menace, amidst public outrage and protests sparked by economic hardship and insecurity ravaging the country.

“The social media has become a societal menace and must be regulated. As many people do not understand that once the send button is hit, there is a potential to reach millions of people around the world, which is capable of causing a great danger not just in the society but even unintended consequences to the individuals that are receiving information which may include security of life,” said Mr Tinubu.

Messrs Tinubu and Gbajabiamila have come under heavy criticism as citizens ask the government to tackle insecurity, poverty and hunger induced by the government’s policies. 

Over the years, Nigerians have deployed social media as a tool for driving national discussions, expressing myriad opinions, mobilising for protests and criticising erring politicians and government policies, while political parties deploy same for campaign, propaganda and divisive fake news. 

The ‘European Union Election Observation Mission NIGERIA 2023 Final Report’ listed aviation minister Festus Keyamo and Fani Kayode among notorious fake news purveyors during the 2023 general elections.

A bill proposed to regulate social media under Mr Tinubu’s predecessor, former president Muhammadu Buhari, failed as Nigerians pushed back, fearing it could be weaponised to gag public opinion.

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