A non-govermental organisation, Civil Voices Coalition for the Protection of Rights and Privileges, has tackled 110 Civil Society Organisation (CSOs) that rejected Senate moves to hold public hearing on social media bill, saying their position does not represent the view of 180 million.
Last Wednesday, at town hall meeting organised by AIT, the CSOs said the bill is a resuscitation of “an obnoxious bill that had been hitherto unanimously rejected by the people” and should not be further considered for public hearing to be funded by tax-payers money.
The group added that such a bill is ‘self-serving and politically motivated’ to police the internet and gag the freedom of expression.
Public Relation Officer of Civil Voices Coalition, Aliyu Mustafa, said that freedom of speech is not a justification defamation or character assassination.
“While it is the right of coalition of civil societies to oppose this bill (Social media) as demonstrated with collection hundreds of thousands of signatures, it should be noted that those signatories do not represent the over 180 million Nigerians whose safety, rights and dignities at risk of allowing an unregulated and unsubstantiated kinds of posts we see today on social media,” he said.
He said that, regulations, reputations and businesses had suffered great loss due to fake news and malicious onslaughts by persons of no credible characters and this can not and should not be allowed to continue.
“As we speak, the dissemination and rebroadcasting of dangerous publications has divided the country along religious, ethnic and political lines all because of abused freedom of speech and expression of public opinion, it should be not that there is clear difference between falsehood and constructive criticism.
“If you cook up stories of event that didn’t happen and spread fear, anger and frustrations that ignite trouble leading to loss of life and properties or even at the least causing embarrassment to an individual or group of persons, you should not be allowed to benefit from such wrong doing” he said.
“If you take someone’s photo and edit or photo shop to portray a compromising position and spread to the public to harm or embarrass an individual, you are on the wrong side of the law and so those who seek to undermine the regulation of the medium that allows such falsehood and fake news are equally at risk of becoming victims falsehood and manipulation sooner or later” he added.
The Social media Bill was introduced by Muhammed Sani Musa (APC, Niger East) in November last year to regulate the social media and curb fake news on the internet, since then, it has been trailed by lot of criticisms from citizens and Civil Society Organisations.