FCT Lawyers Kick Against Social Media Bill

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[caption id="attachment_14106" align="alignnone" width="299"]Senate President: Bukola Saraki Senate President: Bukola Saraki[/caption]

A cross section of lawyers in the FCT have condemned the proposed Social Media Bill by the Senate, saying that it is "repressive and unconstitutional". Speaking on the bill, which had passed its second reading in the Senate, the legal practitioners said on Thursday that they would take judicial measures to ensure that it did not see the light of the day. A lawyer, John Shagba, told the News Agency of Nigeria that the bill as presented by Bala Na’Allah "is a deliberate attempt to stifle freedom of speech."

Ben Nnaji, another legal practitioner said that the National Assembly erred in the proposed bill, which might result in clamping down the media, stressing that "it is anti-masses and unacceptable". He described the proposed law as "déjà-vu’’; equating it with the Decree 4 promulgated during the Muhammadu Buhari Military regime, which was widely seen as the most repressive and the most dreaded press law enacted in Nigeria. Speaking in same vein, another lawyer, Victor Okwudiri said that Section 39 of the 1999 Constitution as amended, which guarantees the right to freedom of expression, also provides limitations. Okwudiri noted that if the proposed bill was not handled carefully, it could make nonsense of the democratic dividends that the people had been enjoying in the past couple of years. He likened the bill to a tanker carrying petroleum products saying, "it is highly combustible" even though it is meant for human convenience; it can also wipe out humanity if not handled carefully. He said that the bill was more or less a surplus, because without it, people already have the right to sue for defamation, if anyone or the media writes anything malicious against them. He said that there was also the law of sedition which seeks to restrict the extent to which people could talk against or incite people against the government.
The lawyer said that the requirement for swearing of affidavit before a publication was a clear affront on the right to freedom of expression and should be kicked against.

(NAN)

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