Friday, December 4, 2015

Social media censorship bill: ‘Senate can’t be intimidated’ to surrender’

social media
ABUJA – AS criticisms continue to trail the ongoing bill by the Senate to censor social media in the country, the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, has said no amount of attacks arising from it would make the Red Chamber abandon the proposed law.

Saraki, who acknowledged the roles of the social media in the development of the country’s growing democracy, however, said the Senate would not fold its hand to allowed it abused by some elements.

Speaking yesterday, when Senator Dino Melaye, APC, Kogi West, raised the issue under matters of urgent importance, during the day’s plenary, the Senate President berated activities of some social media platforms, which he said, had published numerous materials to undermine the integrity of the Red Chamber.

While flaying the criticisms that have greeted the proposed social media censorship bill, Saraki insisted that senators cannot be blackmailed to drop the bill.

Saraki, while acknowledging the excesses of some of the social media operators, however, acknowledged the existence of freedom of speech in the nation’s law book.

Even as he advised that the social media should be fair and accurate in their reportage, Saraki said the Senate cannot let `a few bad eggs’ taint the image of the social media.

“People must be held responsible for their action. I believe what has been raised is important,” Saraki said.

He therefore referred the matter to the Committees on Ethics Privileges and Public Petitions; Committee on Information Communication Technology; and Committee on Judiciary with the mandate to conclude the world expected and report back in one month.

Earlier, Senator Melaye had, in his point of order,said he was concerned by the growing unlawful activities of some social media users in the country, asking that the social media operators should be held accountable for their reports and publications.

He noted with displeasure that if no measure was put in place to check the activities of some social media outfits, especially SaharaReporters and others like it, the social media could destroy the nation’s democracy.

“If there are no measures put in place, this particular SaharaReporters and others have the capacity to drag democracy into crisis because they have become very reclkless.

“They make laborious statements that have no content of fact at all and because of the Nigeria’s perception it is very important that we check their activities.

“While I celebrate the social media as major actors, this Senate should not be blackmailed or cowed because of the social media. You will read time innumerable, SaharaReporters casting aspersion on the integrity of the Senate. The Senate is a sacred hallowed chamber.

“The bill moved yesterday on frivolous petitions have been misconstrued by this same people and this Senate should not keep quiet because this can have a negative effect on the Nation.This SaharaReporters have commercialized their consciences and moneytised their operations and are now tools being used against perceived political enemies.

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