Civil Society Group says ‘No to Social Media’ Bill public hearing
A total of 110 civil society organisations, CSOs have rejected the anti-social media bill as a disguised attempt to stiffle constitutionally guaranteed human rights to freedom of expression.
Presenting the report of the groups to the media in Abuja, a member of the organisation, Bunmi Shoubore says Nigerians have made their position clear ahead of the March 9 public hearing of the senate on the bill.
The position of the CSOs is coming over a month after ait.live hosted a popular town hall forum for sponsors of the bill and Nigerians to engage the proposed law.
No fewer than 110 civil society organisations would on Monday, March 9, 2020, storm the National Assembly, Abuja, to express their grievances against the proposed Social Media Bill.
The groups under the aegis of Coalition of Civil Society Organisations for Protection of Civil Space, said the bill would further stifle and muzzle freedom of expression in Nigeria if passed into law.
Addressing journalists in Abuja on Wednesday, Convener of the protest, Bukky Shonibare, said the attempt by the Senate to resuscitate the bill already rejected by the people constitutes an assault on Nigerians.
Shonibare added that the bill was a direct affront on the 1999 constitution of Nigeria (as amended), which guarantees human rights including freedom of expression.
She stressed further that the planned clampdown on Internet users and critics of government had shown a rising pattern of suppression.
She therefore called on lawmakers to use the public hearing to apologise to Nigerians for wasting legislative time in resuscitating an obnoxious bill that had been totally rejected by the people.
Shonibare said, “The Senate should rather promote bills that would improve the civic space and not unduly restrict it. The bill is a threat to constitutionally and internationally guaranteed human rights.
“The Senate should also note that there are enough existing laws in the country’s statute books on defamation, privacy, libel and slander to protect public and private individuals along with the 2015 Cybercrimes Act. The SB. 132 Bill, therefore, is a legislative overkill.
“There is absolutely no need for a new law specially targeting the Internet and social media platforms.”
Shonibare said over 110 organisations have jointly signed a petition submitted to the committee and would mobilise to attend the public hearing.