Nigerian Senate proposes three-month jail for social media offenders

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The Senate has introduced a bill to regulate the use of social media in the country .

The bill , which passed first reading at plenary on Tuesday, proposed N 150 , 000 fine or a three- month jail term for any individual who posts false information on social media.

The bill titled , ‘ Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulations Bill 2019 ’ sponsored by Senator Sani Musa also prescribed a penalty of between N 5 m and N 10 m for any corporate organisation that refuses to block false information after being cautioned by the regulatory agency .

The bill also stipulates that telecommunication firms that allow their networks to be used to disseminate false information could face sanctions .

Musa, who represents Niger East in the upper chamber of the National Assembly, told reporters on Wednesday that the move was aimed at guiding social media users and not designed to gag the media.

He said , “Nigeria is not only for the government but for every Nigerian and we must all work towards moving this country to where it needs to be.

“ You can see America and other advanced countries today ; they have been together for over hundreds of years.

“ They had their period of turmoil and challenges like ours , but they have been able to pass through .

“ How did they do it ?

There is rule of law because people are obeying to the laws.

“ For a country like Nigeria today and with the advent of social media , there is every reason for a country to as much as possible focus its attention on how this new media is tolerated . ”

He said it was possible for an individual to stay in a room and post false information just to hit at someone.

The lawmaker added , “ I have a passion for IT and I know what it takes to disseminate your information , it is like the speed of light.

“ Some journalists will look at this legislation as if we are trying bring a law that will gag social media or the right to free press.

“ It is legislation that will guide how we can tolerate our activities on social media.

“ False information has been disseminated so many time and it has caused chaos in different parts of the world .

“ If countries like the Philippines, Singapore, Italy , Malaysia , Australia, France , Indonesia , Egypt are putting control (measures in place ) to prevent the spread of false information , what stops us from doing it ?”

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