THE Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) on Thursday described the anti-social media bill as ‘illegal’ geared at increasing the level of oppression faced by Nigerians.
The civic group noted that the country, prior to the bill, has encountered cases of dictatorship by leaders of the country and as such, the enactment of the bill would escalate the existing situation.
In a series of tweets on Thursday, the group listed individuals whose freedom of expression has been violated, after they had indicted the government on social media platforms.
SERAP recalled that six students of Madonna university were detained for a post on Facebook alleging poor management in their institution; a FUNAAB student was expelled for writing an open letter to the Vice-Chancellor on Facebook, and a Taraba University student was similarly expelled over Facebook post criticising Darius Ishaku, governor of the state.
Also, the group noted that a journalist Danjuma Katsina was jailed over alleged ‘injurious comments’ on a House of Representatives member, Mansur Mashi. Likewise, a journalist, Agba Jalingo is facing ‘terrorism’ charges for criticising Cross River Ben Ayade, the state governor.
The on-going trial of Sowore facing bogus charges for calling a national protest is not far fetched, even as a lawyer Joseph Odok was charged with ‘terrorism’ also for criticising Ayade.
The Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulations Bill also called the Social Media Bill was introduced to the Senate on November 5 and was sponsored by Mohammed Sani Musa, a member of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) representing Niger East Senatorial District.
The bill which had passed its second reading aims at regulating the use of social media in Nigeria and curbing fake news on the internet.
The bill has been condemned by civil society groups and media practitioners as one capable of limiting the rights of Nigerians to the freedom of expression.