About 15 civil society organisations have decried the growing calls by different individuals and government affiliates for the passage of the social media bill in Nigeria by the National Assembly.
The Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulation Bill better known as Social Media Bill prescribes sanction for abuse of social media.
It was sponsored by Muhammad Musa representing Niger East senatorial district.
The CSOs, in a statement, argued that the overwhelming demand for police reform in Nigeria was a product of government’s insensitivity to the plight of Nigerians and any attempt to pass the social media bill will only further agitate the polity and widen the distrust of Nigerians towards the government.
They called on the Senate to reject the bill.
The statement reads, “We have watched with dismay the growing demand from different individuals and government affiliates following the crucial role the social media has played in the recent EndSARS protest, that the social media bill should be quickly passed by the National Assembly.
“The coordination and consistency of this obnoxious demand, especially at a time when Nigerians have been very vocal against police brutality and are demanding a better Nigerian police institution through the social media, has compelled us to immediately decry such demand as insensitive, retrogressive and anti-democracy.
“The overwhelming demand for police reform in Nigeria today is a product of government’s insensitivity to the plight of Nigerians for a very long time. In the same way, any attempt to pass the social media bill will only further agitate the polity and widen the distrust of Nigerians towards the government.
“Considering recent events in the country, particularly the escalation of violence against peaceful protesters in Lekki, Lagos, and other parts of the country, it has become extremely important for the Nigerian Government to demonstrate its commitment to accountability to the people; and the social media remains a very crucial platform where citizens can lead such conversation.
“In addition, recent developments in the country proves that the social media is playing an invaluable role in deepening Nigeria’s democracy and promoting citizens’ demand for accountability, hence; a very important thing that government must do at this time is to ensure that any conversation about restricting digital freedom or freedom of speech is sharply considered a threat to Nigerians and Nigeria’s civic space.
“It is our hope, therefore, that the National Assembly would take the lead in demonstrating government’s commitment to the Nigerian people in these trying times, and kill the social media bill once and for all, and make sure that a more democratic approach is employed to deal with fake news in the country.”