Rights activists slam lawmakers’ secret moves to pass social media bill

By Khoze Clement

A group of rights activists yesterday in Abuja slammed members of National Assembly, alleging that there was secret moves to pass the controversial Social Media Bill into law, despite the condemnation that has trailed it.

Top among the group are Centre for Liberty, Tap Initiative, Global Rights, Fredrick Nwabufo and Lirad-Lex Initiative for Rights Advocacy and Development.

The group, while vowing that efforts to stop the anti people bill from becoming law, would not relent, also accused the lawmakers for betraying the peopl who elected them for quality representation.

Co-convener Centre for Liberty, Adebayo Raphael stated that “passing the social media bill in such an underhanded manner would not only mean that the Senate is unwilling to listen to Nigerians, but also that it is willing to be an intransigent enabler of tyranny”.

“For a fact, we know that the said bill was overwhelmingly rejected by Nigerians across all fields of endeavour during the public hearing on the bill”, he added.

Adebayo noted that the civil society group’s expectation has shattered to pieces owing to the fact that the bill is still alive and considering the outcry of the general public and its impact namely: constraining citizens’ right to freedom of expression.

Therefore the group called on all Nigerians to stand up to ensure that the bill does not see the day light.

He also added that the incumbent government passed the Company and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) 2020, and the Reviewed Broadcasting Code, inserting nefarious clauses and sections into both, thereby bringing universal freedoms known to democracy under conspicuous and unchallenged threat in Nigeria.

Adebayo then urged Senator Opeyemi Bamidele’s Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters to accept the overwhelming rejection of the obnoxious bill by Nigerians, and forward a report on same to the committee of the whole.

The representative of Global Rights, Amara Ogwuma re-echoed that Nigerians are entitled to freedom of expression as enshrined in the constitution and that the bill is in sharp contrast as it is meant to repress the rights of Nigerians, she further added that Senator Bamidele should ensure that Nigerians rights are not trampled upon.

The Executive Director of Tap Initiative Martin Obono, buttressed what his colleagues said by adding that during the public hearing about 99% of the organizations that spoke rejected the bill, including government agencies.

“Anyone pressing further to ensure that this bill is passed is an enemy of Nigeria”  he stressed.

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