Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo on Monday called out to those in opposition to the Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulation and Other Related Matters Bill 2019 to practice what they preach.
The Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulation and Other Related Matters Bill 2019, popularly known as the Social Media Bill seeks among other things to regulate social media use in Nigeria.
Sponsored by Senator Muhammad Sani Musa, the bill which has scaled second reading in the Nigerian Senate, has faced loads of criticisms, to become one of the most controversial bills in Nigeria, alongside the hate speech bill.
Reacting, Keyamo said, “Those so-called overnight Social Media ‘activists’ who oppose the Social Media Bill should first stop blocking those who irritate them with insults, unblock all those they have blocked and apologise to them. You can’t be intolerant and ask others to be. Practice what you preach.
“Some cannot differentiate the Social Media Bill from the Hate Speech Bill. Whilst no reasonable person will support death sentence for hate speech, you can’t come online to say something totally untrue that can put other lives in danger without some kind of penal consequence.
“The real agitation should be for Parliament, in line with S.36(12) of the 1999 Constitution, to clearly define the TYPES of false & insensitive posts that would attract penal consequences, so that govt doesn’t abuse it. But to leave everyone to just post ANYTHING is unacceptable.
“Civil suits on Defamation of character only take care of PERSONAL INSULTS. I don’t subscribe to punishment for that. But you cannot come online to deliberately post false stories, in the guise of ‘freedom of speech’, that can set the nation ablaze without some penal consequences”.
Meanwhile, aggrieved Nigerians, civil societies had staged a protest against the alleged plot by the Senate to punish social media critics with a two-year jail term with passage of the bill, with Zahra Indimi, daughter to President Muhamadu Buhari calling on the Nigerian youths to be patient and understand the content of the social media bill before making “silly” comments and heaping blames.
While speaking at the first edition of ‘An Afternoon with Zahra’, an event recently organized in Abuja, Zahra gave her support to the controversial bill as long as it is carried out in a “fair” manner.
She said: “We have to see and understand the content of the present social media regulation bill. Whatever it is, you need to understand and know the implication of the bill. That’s what we need to do as young people,” she said.
“We need to research more, understand what is going on instead of just making silly comments every now and then and blaming people for no reason. So I am in support of regulations, but fair regulations.”
Zahra shared her experience with cyber-bullies in 2020, adding that she was bothered with issues pertaining to governance when she holds no office alongside her father.
“2015 was when I knew what bullying was. It started with my photos going viral. I was having a yoga class, sweating. But people were busy sending my pictures up and down,” she said.
“People used it for their gain during campaign. The 2015 elections went well. But, after 100 days, the blow started coming. ‘Zahra, your father did this. Zahra, your father did that.’ Am I in office with him? Do I take any vital decision?
“I kept wondering why people do this to me constantly. I said to myself, ‘Zahra you are a woman. Zahra, you are educated. Zahra, you have a son and a family that loves you.’
“Those bullies do not have families. They are just floating. When they insult you, just let them be. They are trying to cover up some things they are feeling within,” she narrated.
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