Oby Ezekwesili, a former federal minister of education has reacted to plans of the Senate to introduce a bill aimed making it an offence to publish any petition or complaint against a public officer on social media.
The bill titled 'An Act to Prohibit Frivolous Petitions and Other Related Matters' which scaled second reading on Wednesday, December 2 2015 seeks to to censor social media.
According to Ezekwesili, it would be impossible to pass the bill into law because Twitter and other social media platforms cannot be summoned by the government.
Reacting on Twitter, the former minister condemned the senators trying to curb free speech through an anti-social law, saying it is impossicant.
This week, Nigeria’s senators moved a bill designed to curb freedom of speech on social media. The bill sponsored by Senator Ibn Na’Allah, APC, Kebbi South scaled through second reading.
The bill proposes a sentence of up to seven years in prison or a five million naira fine (US$25,000) for “anyone who intentionally propagates false information that could threaten the security of the country or that is capable of inciting the general public against the government through electronic message.”
It also seeks to criminalize anyone disseminating via text message, Twitter, WhatsApp, or any other form of social media an “abusive statement” intending to “set the public against any person and group of persons, an institution of government or such other bodies established by law."
The penalty for this is up to two years in prison or a N2 million fine (about US$10,000), or both.
However, the Senate has denied passing a bill proposing two years jail term for social media users. According to the Senate, the bill seeks to make illegal, the common act of individuals sponsoring frivolous petitions to tarnish or blackmail public servants or political office holders for selfish purposes.