Human rights and pro-democracy activist, Senator Shehu Sani, has said the Social Media Bill and the Hate Speech Bill before the National Assembly is also part of the design by President Muhammadu Buhari to turn the country into a totalitarian state and curtail the freedom of speech of Nigerians guaranteed in the 1999 Constitution (as amended).The 8th National Assembly senator recalled: “The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) used the social media to mobilise support on winning the 2015 elections and they used it to harass the last administration.
“But today, because the same medium is being used to hold the Buhari government to account and question power, they want to throw out the ladder they used to get to power.“The Social Media Bill, I suspect, has the hands of the executive and it is an attempt to silence Nigerians, to rule without question and to move our democracy into autocracy. It is aimed at silencing the opposition, silencing criticisms and silencing dissent. We are on the road to dictatorship in Nigeria.”
In the same vein, Dean, School of Management and Communication, Bayero University, Kano, Professor Umaru Pate, blamed government and politicians for hate speeches, while cautioning the National Assembly against any attempt to infringe on the fundamental rights of Nigerians through the Bill.Pate said the political class, government, religious groups, ethnic organisations and individuals must be blamed for the information that the media generate as content and subsequently overheat the polity, adding: “The media need total public support to promote democracy, accountable government and nation building.”