The Senate has reintroduced a bill seeking a three-year jail term for anyone involved in what it calls the abuse of social media. The development came years after the upper chamber was pressurized into abandoning planned promulgation of what many tagged a “draconian and anti-social media” law.
In the new bill, however, there is an option of fine of N150,000 or both. It is also proposing a huge fine of N10 million for media houses involved in peddling falsehood or misleading the public. The bill which has already passed first reading on the floor of the upper legislative chamber is entitled ‘Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulations Bill, 2019’. It is sponsored by Mohammed Sani Musa (APC, Niger East).
In 2016, when it first introduced a similar bill and was later forced to withdraw the same following public outcry, the Senate had sought to compel social media critics to accompany their petitions with sworn court affidavit, or face six months imprisonment upon conviction.Part of that old bill which was sponsored by Senator Bala Na’Allah reads :”Any person who unlawfully uses, publishes or causes to be published, any petition, complaint not supported by a duly sworn affidavit, shall be deemed to have committed an offense and upon conviction, shall be liable to an imprisonment for six months without an option of fine.”