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Nigeria Social Media Bill: A Bill To Regulate Free Speech

Nigeria Social Media Bill: A Bill To Regulate Free Speech

The Federal Government of Nigeria haven unveiled the Social Media Bill, a bill that aims to regulate digital platforms. As a proposal, the bill has been submitted to the National Assembly as it seeks to repeal and reenact the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) Act, CAP L11 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004. Howbeit, be that as it may, a democratic system of governance is an inclusive style of government that seeks to be citizen-centric and not a politics-centric idea of control in a show of state capture. Before the election, one would find it memorable, though not a good memory during the election, that social media is the only best resort for people to speak their truth to hold those in public offices accountable. Turns out, the last straw of freedom of speech allowed was to campaign and demoralize the electorates into “moving on”. Isn’t that censorship?

That’s not all, the Director-General of NBC at the Minister of Information and National Orientation headquarters, referred to social media as a “monster” and further emphasized on the need to push the bill to its implementation. This is because the existing law does not give NBC the authority to oversee what gets posted on social media or not, nor the power to regulate social media platforms. As the effect of such an anti-free speech bill, citizens especially the majority of the youth can be de-platformed, banned, arrested/jailed for posting online what the government that stole netizens’ right to elect a president does not want to be posted. Having passed the first reading mid-October, NBC had issued 1,238 warnings, and six different stations had faced knife-to-throat kind of media gag against guests’ use of free speech on air.

#EndSARS was a practical effect of how dangerous such a bill is to freedom of speech in Nigeria. At the Federal government’s request, the partisan law enforcement agencies can dox citizens, match their digital footprints with the financial records then freeze such target accounts and risk their freedom to life for exercising basic fundamental human rights. It is important for the people whose existence poses a danger so much that if and when the civil right to freedom of expression, speech, and liberty is exercised, they risk getting penalized, illegally detained, or jailed. Yes, it’s that bad. A #NoToSocialMediaBill is a chance to have freedom of thought and its expression—speech.

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