THE Media Rights Agenda (MRA), a non-profit organisation promoting freedom of expression, has tasked the federal government to focus attention on insecurity and unemployment plaguing the nation instead of making ‘fruitless’ attempts at controlling social media.
MRA made this call in a statement shared with journalists on Wednesday.
The government had abandoned its duty and preoccupied itself with employing methods to control social media, the rights group said, accusing the FG of plotting to gag freedom of expression and speech.
This was submitted in response to the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed’s latest rhetoric at a meeting held on Monday, in Abuja, with a Finnish Government delegation, where he stated that his office will convene a stakeholders’ meeting as part of its efforts to design a framework for the sanitisation of the social media.
Recall that Mohammed in a recent interview with Tim Sebastian of Deutsche Welle (DW), denied having knowledge of a social media bill at the floor of the National Assembly.
When quizzed about the bill that stands as a symbol of stifling the press and freedom of expression, the minister said he had no knowledge of such a bill and claimed that it doesn’t exist.
The contradiction was condemned by MRA’s Programme Director, Mr. Ayode Longe, who accused the FG of abandoning its primary duty and were more concerned with ‘chasing shadows to the detriment of Nigerians.’
“With Nigerians facing a level of violent crimes and general insecurity never before experienced in the country, with unemployment at an all-time high and with most citizens experiencing the most horrendous conditions of living, postings on social media should not be the greatest concern of any responsible Government at this time as the Government’s attitude evidences a lack of appreciation of its role and priorities,” the statement read in part.
Several groups have in the past criticized the proposed social media bill. The ICIR reported that the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD) in a statement noted that the bill is an attempt to use the legislative process to muzzle freedom of expression.
Similarly, Socio-Economic Right And Accountability Project (SERAP) described the bill as illegal and asked that it be discarded.