Chris Steven, Abuja
The controversy generated by the proposed Social Media Bill is taking fresh dimension as members of Nigerian Civil Societies on Tuesday stormed the National Assembly Complex to protest the Bill that is already being debated in the Senate for subsequent passage into law.
The CSOS who marched to the National Assembly complex with banners and placards bearing inscriptions such as “No to anti-social media bill” , “there must be freedom of speech” among others demanded that the bill be stepped down.
The bill, which is titled “Bill for an Act to Prohibit Frivolous Petitions and Other Matters Connected Therewith,” has been dubbed ‘Anti-Social Media’ as it seeks to impose a two-year jail term for abusive statement.
It is being sponsored by the Deputy Senate Majority Leaders, Senator Iba Na’allah and has already passed second reading.
The bill has been widely condemned by media practitioners and civil societies as it is seen as a deliberate ploy to gag Nigerian media.
Senior Special Adviser on Media, to President Muhammadu Buhari, Garba Shehu had on Monday assured Nigerians that the President would not assent to any bill that impedes on freedom of speech or that is inconsistent with the provision of the nation’s constitution.
“As a key component of democratic principles, the President acknowledged that people in democratic societies are so emotionally attached to free speech that they would defend it with all their might.
“The Senate is a democratic Senate. The President won’t assent to any legislation that may be inconsistent with the constitution of Nigeria,” Shehu had reassured.