By AUSTIN OWOICHO, Abuja
More civil society groups have expressed their support for the internet falsehood and manipulations and other related matters bill.
This followed a media dialogue organised by the Voices Coalition for the protection of rights and privileges held at the Howthorn Suites Abuja.
Briefing newsmen, the spokesman of the coalition, Aliyu Mustapha and other members of the group among whom were Maryam Abdulmalik and Peter Okoli said the essence of the media parley was to sensitize the public on the importance of the bill.
They pointed out that although section 39 (1) of the 1999 constitution guarantees freedom of expression as a fundamental right, President Muhammadu Buhari had on several occasions said that where the exercise of these rights infringes on the rights of other citizens or threatens to undermine national security, the government will take firm and decisive action.
They argued that the idea behind the introduction of the bill is to curb the spread of falsehood and fake news in Nigeria which has threatened the sanctity of the nation.
The group also acknowledge the need for an agency to regulate the social media space just as the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) is regulating the conventional media.
The group also decried the level of destruction caused by fake news in the country, adding that the bill does not seek to undermine people’s freedom but to ensure the safety, dignity and rights of Nigerians are protected.
According to the bill, a person must not transmit a statement that is false or a statement that might affect the security of any part of Nigeria, affect public health, public safety or public finance.
Other aspects of the bill include, a person must not transmit any statement that may affect the nation’s relationship with other countries or influence the outcome of an election to any office in a general election, cause enmity or hatred towards a person or group of persons.
The bill titled, “Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulations and Other Related Matters Bill 2019” was sponsored by Senator Mohammad Sani Musa (Niger East) and passed second reading on November 20 2019.