NGE.SenateThe Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) has called on the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to ‘unconditionally’ suspend all proceedings with respect to a proposed Bill, “FRIVOLOUS PETITIONS (PROHIBITIONS ETC) BILL, 2015.”

Highlights

  • There have been reports that the Senate is on the verge of introducing an anti-social media law 
  • The Guild of Editors says such an ‘obnoxious’ law would negate the spirit of the constitution which already has laws that accommodate the perceived concerns of the lawmakers 
  • Analysts believe an anti-media law would return the nation to the repressive military era

Details

In a statement signed by NGE President Garba Deen Muhammad, the Guild decried what it identified as the broad objective of the “curiously accelerated Bill to outlaw the freedom of expression of all Nigerian citizens and freedom of speech of all media organizations operating in print, electronic and on-line platforms in Nigeria and beyond.”

The statement expresses the concern that “a group of persons elected by Nigerians to ensure that their rights, privileges and interests are protected, should gleefully misuse the mandate given to them to the detriment of the same people that elected them” 

Saraki.Deen
Senate President Bukola Saraki (left) and NGE President Garba Deen Muhammad

Senate President, Bukola Saraki was last week reported to have said that no amount of attacks arising from it would make the Red Chamber abandon the proposed law.

Saraki, who acknowledged the role of the social media in the development of the country’s growing democracy, berated the activities of some social media platforms which he said had published numerous materials to undermine the integrity of the Red Chamber.
“People must be held responsible for their action. I believe what has been raised is important,” Saraki reportedly said. 

Dictatorship

The NGE however frowns at the move which some analysts have interpreted as propelling the country towards social media dictatorship. 

While acknowledging that members of the Senate have a right both individually and collectively to express their concerns about the abuse of the cyberspace by unscrupulous people and organizations, the Guild advised the lawmakers to consolidate or strengthen the existing laws and enforce implementation. 

Below is the full text of the NGE statement:

FRIVOLOUS PETITIONS (PROHIBITIONS ETC) BILL 2015

The Nigerian Guild of Editors (NGE) demands, unconditionally, that the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria suspends all proceedings with respect to a proposed Bill, “FRIVOLOUS PETITIONS (PROHIBITIONS ETC) BILL, 2015.”

The broad objective of this curiously accelerated Bill is to outlaw the freedom of expression of all Nigerian citizens and freedom of speech of all media organizations operating in print, electronic and on-line platforms in Nigeria and beyond. Appallingly, the Bill has also included as its target very personal and private means of communication such as SMS or text messages and WhatsApp, among others. 

The freedom of speech and expression is guaranteed in section 22 and 39(1) of the 1999 Nigerian constitution respectively. Therefore, to enact any kind of law under any guise that will contradict these fundamental provisions is to deliberately seek to undermine the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

We are, therefore, concerned that a group of persons elected by Nigerians to ensure that their rights, privileges and interests are protected, should gleefully misuse the mandate given to them to the detriment of the same people that elected them.

As other concerned individuals and groups have pointed out, the Senate should note that there are already existing laws in our Constitution that can accommodate all the concerns, real or imagined, that the proposed Bill is expected to address. These laws include the Cyber Crime (Prohibition, Prevention, etc.) Act 2015, the Libel law etc.

In view of this and the glaring danger posed by the proposed Bill, the NGE is strongly advising the Senate to drop all proceedings on the proposed Bill and turn its attention instead to critical areas in need of urgent intervention.


While believing that members of the Senate have a right both individually and collectively to express their concerns about the abuse of the cyberspace by unscrupulous people and organizations, we advise them to consolidate or strengthen the existing laws and enforce implementation.

We call on all Nigerians that are justifiably peeved by the very consideration of enacting such obnoxious law to remain calm and express their opposition through lawful means. 

However, we frown at on-line fraudsters who take advantage of the vulnerable cyber space to carry out cyber bullying, stealing, stalking and all manner of cybercrimes.


Signed:
Garba Deen Muhammad
President, NGE.

NP/PR/Agency reports

 

 

 

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