Senate fixes date for public hearing on controversial bill

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The Senate has fixed March 9 for the hearing on the controversial Social Media bill.

According to the Senate Committee Chairman on judiciary and Legal Matters, Opeyemi Bamidele, the hearing will begin at 11:am at Senate Conference Room 022, Senate New building, National Assembly, Abuja.

According to the public notice signed by Bamidele, interested parties are expected to attend the public hearing and give their opinions as well as suggestions on the bill.

Invited guests include the Nigerian Union of Journalists, Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre, all media organisations, Guild of Editors, among others.

The general public is also invited to the hearing.

The bill had passed first and second reading, while the public hearing, which is one of the final states of the bill needed before the legislation will be considered and possibly passed into law.

The sponsor of the bill, Mohammed Sani Musa (APC, Niger) has said the bill does not intend to gag the media but to check the spread of false information on the internet.

It is rather an opportunity to address the growing threats which if left unchecked, can cause serious damage in our polity and disrupt peaceful existence, he said.

The lawmaker also said that while the internet has democratised information, the fact remains that it has also been a weapon in the process – which is why governments across the world are trying to mitigate the risks associated with information transmission via internet by monitoring abuse and deliberate misconduct.

Meanwhile the Centre for Impact Advocacy (CIA) has advised Nigerians to attend the hearing and object to the legislation.

In a statement signed by Mojirayo Ogunlana-Nkanga for the CIA, the group said that citizens must understand that the law is aimed at suppressing the freedom of speech and right to criticize the government.

“For those who understand the way the laws of Nigeria have been used to suppress citizen’s right to freedom of expression, it is important that you make it to the public hearing to express yourself and object to this legislation,” the statement reads.

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