Senators elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have vowed to oppose any proposed bill that will infringe on the right of Nigerians as guaranteed in Section 39 of the 1999 Constitution as amended.
Last week, the Senate proposed a new Bill tagged: “Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulations Bill, 2019.”
It proposes a three-year jail term for anyone involved in the abuse of social media. There is, however, an option of fine of N150,000 for offenders.
Minority Leader of the Senate, Enyinnaya Abaribe, while reacting to comments by members of Leadership and Accountability Initiative who visited the legislators, said laws already existed that dealt with issues that the proposed bill seeks to achieve.
“What I can assure you is that this Senate can’t be a party to removing the rights of Nigerians. Section 39 of the constitution talks about our freedom as citizens. The 9th Senate will not abridge your rights.
“I don’t think Nigerians who fought and paid the supreme sacrifice to entrench this democracy will give it away and make us go back to the dark days. Rest assured that when we get to that point, we will stand for the people. Every Bill that passes here must pass through the rigours that ensures it protects the rights of Nigerians.
However, Katsina State Chief Judge, Justice Musa Danladi Abubakar, accused some social media practitioners of prejudicial reporting.
“Prejudicial reporting has had detrimental effects on numerous cases, particularly high-profile cases,” Abubakar said noting that the proliferation of social media outlets had given birth to “armchair lawyers.”
Abubakar spoke on at the opening of a capacity-building workshop on court reporting for judiciary correspondents organised by Journalists for Accountability and Good Governance Initiative (JAGGI).
Meanwhile, the Action Democratic Party (ADP)has called on the National Assembly to reject and throw away any bill aimed at gagging freedom of speech.
The party said it would not fold its arms and watch Nigeria descend into a state of totalitarian or despotism. The party flayed the promoters of the bill, saying: “The National Assembly, must not project itself as a rubber stamp to the executive where every bill is passed without considering the far reaching effects on the citizens.”