The Nigerian Senate has denied reports that it is planning to pass the controversial Social Media Bill despite the public rejection of the bill.
If passed into law, the social media bill will empower the Nigerian government to unilaterally order the shutdown of the internet. An internet service provider that refuses to obey the order on conviction by a court may be fined N10 million for each day the order is not obeyed. Another section of the bill prescribes a fine of N300,000 or three-year jail term or both for anyone found guilty of making statements that “diminish public confidence in the performance of any duty or function, or in the exercise of any power of the Government.”
Many Nigerians said the bill is designed to clamp down on freedom of speech. Sahara Reporters on Saturday, August 29, released a report that the Senate was planning to secretly pass the controversial bill.
The Senate has now denied the report. In a statement released by its spokesperson, Senator Ajibola Basiru, the Senate says the report is "false and a lie concocted by the news site to ridicule and tarnish the image of the Senate."
''The story made up by SaharaReporters that the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is to pass Social Media Bill despite rejection by Nigerians is false and a lie concocted by the medium to ridicule and tarnish the image of the Senate.
This report is yet another example of irresponsibility taken too far as there has not been any recommendation for passage of the bill by the Senate.
By deliberately publishing falsehood, SaharaReporter is not only doing no good to the Nation but it is also shooting itself down as its recklessness and incredulity would always speak against it.
The Senate wishes that Nigerians will be circumspect, shunning gullibility which makes them to lap up those invidious write ups and begin to comment on non-existent issues.
If some people have chosen the path of perfidy wanting to bring the nation and its sacred institutions down, Nigerians must be wary and unwilling to be led by those to believing the false fabrication.
It should be common knowledge by all that the Senate conducts its sittings in the open and matters for consideration are well laid out and therefore, would not require anyone's investigation to 'dig' out what the Senate would do.
The relevant committee of the Senate has not submitted its report for the bill to be passed at all or surreptitiously as claimed by SaharaReporters.
We will not allow unscrupulous writers to denigrate the Senate and ridicule the great work that is on-going.
SaharaReporters must be afraid to see the platform where they peddle their trade of falsehood tampered with, even at that, there should be no need to lie so brazenly.''