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Social Media Bill: Senate sets date for public hearing

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THE Nigerian Senate has fixed a date for the public hearing of the Social Media bill, despite public outcry over the bill believed to be an attempt aimed at stifling freedom of speech and expression in the country.

The chairman of the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Legal Matters, Opeyemi Bamidele, made the announcement in a published notice on Daily Trust newspaper, on Wednesday.

The details as published, declare that the hearing is scheduled to hold at Senate Conference Room 022, Senate New building, National Assembly, Abuja on March 9.

The general public as well as interested parties are invited to attend and submit suggestions and opinions on the bill.

Social Media bill public hearing published notice.
Photo: Daily Trust.

The bill, titled; Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulations Bill, 2019,’ sponsored by Mohammed Musa, senator representing Niger East Senatorial District, was introduced in November 2019 and caused an uproar on social media.

However, Musa argued that the bill was to arrest the spread of false information rather than gag freedom of expression on social media.

The Social Media bill has passed first and second reading and is now set for public hearing after which the legislation will be considered and possibly passed into law.

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Having made leaps in the 9th Assembly, the Social Media bill remains a mystery to the likes of Lai Mohammed, Minister for Information and Culture.

In an interview with Deutsche Welle (DW) in late January, the minister claimed he had no knowledge of the Social Media Bill which is now in the final stage before it is likely passed into law.

Responding to Tim Sebastian’s question on the draconian provisions outlined in the bill, Mohammed said that such a bill was not before the house.

“There is no such bill before the House. I can say that authoritatively. There is no such bill before the House,” the minister said in the presence of cameras.

Seun Durojaiye is a journalist with International Center for Investigative Reporting (ICIR).

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