Who is afraid of 140 characters? #NoToSocialMediaBill

Fresh indications emerged on Sunday that the Senate may dump the ‘Frivolous Petitions and other Matters Connected therewith Bill’ otherwise known as the ‘anti-social media bill’, on resumption from its current recess, tomorrow (Tuesday).

Investigations by our correspondent revealed that the leadership of the federal parliament, obviously uncomfortable with the barrage of criticisms that greeted the introduction of the bill, had started planning a way to carefully drop it.

Some lawmakers, who spoke with our correspondent on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the bill, explained that the mood in the red chamber at the moment was for the bill to be rested.

A senator from the South-West geopolitical zone said, “The initial plan was to allow the bill pass through public hearing so that the Senate would drop it based on the anticipated public opinion that would definitely be against the bill.

“However, another school of thought within the committee is arguing that allowing the bill to go through public hearing apart from being a waste of tax payers’ money, will further expose the senators to ridicule as media reports from the event will not be favourable.”

A cross-section of the senators agreed that there were laws already in place that could address virtually all the provisions of the proposed ‘anti-social media bill.’

One of them, said, “Majority of Nigerians believe that the traditional media, obviously because of their ownership structure, may not adequately air the views of the people as they would want it hence they are looking at the Senate bill as a means to gag their freedom of expression.”

A principal officer of the Senate, in an interview with our correspondent, said the bill was not aimed at gagging the media but a means to ensure that normal procedures were followed in publishing allegations against any individual or group of persons.

He also insisted that the bill would undergo the normal legislative process and that Nigerians would have the opportunity of the public hearing to express their views either for or against the proposed law.

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