Benue State senator, Abba Moro, said many Nigerians have misinterpreted the essence of the social media bill and recaptioned it as “Anti-Social Media Bill.”
“The bill being tagged Anti-social Media Bill is a clear case of giving the dog a bad name just to hang it,” he said.
The bill, ‘Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulations Bill, 2019’ passed second reading last week.
The bill, sponsored by Mohammed Musa (APC, Niger) was introduced in the Senate two weeks ago.
The bill seeks to regulate the use of social media and curb fake news on the internet.
Since its introduction, the bill has sparked outrage among Nigerians and internet users in particular.
The legislation comes a few years after a similar anti-social media bill introduced in the eight Senate sparked outrage across Nigeria. The bill did not make it into law then.
In a statement by his media aide, Godwin Ameh, the lawmaker blamed persons who have not been privileged to read through the aims and objectives of the bill for misinterpreting the bill.
The statement also said the contribution of Mr Moro during the deliberation of the bill, has been twisted and quoted out of context on the social media”- which he said has generated diverse reactions and concerns from many people, especially his constituents in Benue South.
He said “there is nowhere in the bill that says social media should be muzzled or caged.”
Mr Moro was one of the lawmakers who supported the bill.
He, however, said his contribution “was one with good intention and would protect the society.”
The statement said Mr Moro will never be part of any bill that will gag the press or strip Nigerians of their constitutional right of Freedom of Speech and Expression, as enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 as amended.
“As a man who has always stood by the masses and very media-friendly, Senator Moro will never support any action that is aimed at muzzling the Press or silencing Nigerians.
“He will only continue to be a loud voice for the voiceless and defend the rights of Nigerians. He’s an active user of social media, hence, the reason he appointed an aide on social media,” it read.
He, however, vowed to join other well-meaning Nigerians to support any effort aimed at sanitizing the cyberspace and curbing speeches or publications that are fake, injurious or hate-filled.
“All Nigerians must work towards a peaceful, united and prosperous nation; a society that’s free of hate, malicious falsehood, cyber fraud, willful blackmail, character assassination and cyberbullying,” he said.
Having passed second reading, the lawmakers are expected to hold a public hearing where stakeholders and interested parties are expected to air their views about the bill.