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Social Media Bill threatens Nigeria’s democracy – NGOs warn Senate

Partnership for Media and Democracy in Nigeria (PAMED), a coalition of NGOs, has called on the Senate to drop the Social Media Bill 2015 before it in order not to stand against the will of the people.

The statement is signed by Dr Akin Akingbulu, Executive Director, IMESO, Mr Edetaen Ojo, Executive Director, MRA, and Mr ‘Lanre Arogundade, Director, IPC.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that controversy had continued to trail the bill sponsored by Sen. Bala Ibn Na’Allah, (APC – Kebbi South).

 The group, while citing examples from sections 3 and 4 of the bill, contended that “it seeks to gag both the press and the general public from expressing views and opinions.
“If the bill becomes law, it would infringe on human rights to freedom of expression as globally recognised.’’
PAMED said the call became imperative because “the bill is a threat to democracy in Nigeria.’’
This call is contained in a statement jointly signed by members of PAMED – the Institute of Media and Society (IMESO), Media Rights Agenda (MRA), and the International Press Centre (IPC).
The group held that the bill completely negated important international conventions to which Nigeria was a signatory and which all affirmed the right of citizens to hold opinion, freely express themselves and freely disseminate information.
They also said that the bill was a subjugation of the constitution which the Senate swore to uphold.
It stated that senators were representatives of the people and should be held accountable by the people they served by answering questions and responding to their criticisms.
“PAMED has come to the conclusion that the bill constitutes a threat to democracy because it seeks to repress the social media, the conventional media, the civil society and the citizenry as a whole.
“In the light of all the pressing development challenges confronting the country, which should be the priorities of the Senators and all other persons exercising any form of political power or authority, the PAMED is of the view that the bill itself is frivolous and unwarranted.
“The bill, through its frivolous content and malicious intent, seeks to achieve nothing other than undermining freedom of expression, press freedom, public participation in governance and democracy.
 “PAMED, therefore, affirms that the bill violates all the norms of democratic practise, freedom of expression, press freedom, transparency and accountability as well as open governance.’’ (NAN)


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