The Nigerian Senate has introduced a bill that will regulate the use of social media and curb fake news in Nigeria.
The bill entitled, ‘protection from internet falsehood and manipulations bill, 2019’ is sponsored by Mohammed Sani Musa, senator representing Niger east, and read for the first time on Tuesday, November 5, 2019.
Speaking with journalists in Abuja, Musa who sponsored the bill, said the bill is for “patriotic Nigerians” who want to see the country live in peace because it would protect its “fragile unity”.
“There has never been a time when Nigeria has been very fragile in terms of its unity than this period,” he said.
“It is not to stop people from going into the internet to do whatever they feel legitimately is okay to do but what we felt is wrong is for you to use the medium to document information that you know is false, just because you want to achieve your desirable interest.”
He said the bill proposes a fine of N150,000 or three years imprisonment for any offender.
“If anyone is caught with this kind of situation, you cough out between N150,000 to a maximum imprisonment of three years or both. And if it is a corporate organisation that refused to block that false information despite the fact that they have been alerted by authorities not to disseminate that information for public interest and they still go ahead to do it, refusing to do that blockage will be penalised between N5 million to N10 million for those organisations,” the senator said.
“For example, MTN, Glo, 9 mobile etc. which we use their platform in transmitting these information, if nothing is done, we fine them and you will see that it will be a deterrent to others.”
In the previous senate, there was a similar bill sponsored by Bala Na’Allah, then deputy majority leader. But the bill was withdrawn after outrage by some Nigerians.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed had disclosed that the Federal Government is working on how to inject sanity into use of social media, which it said had totally gone out of control in Nigeria.
Lai Mohammed said that no responsible government would sit back and allow such activities capable of setting the country on fire to continue unchecked.