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October 18, 2021

Anti-Social Media Bill And Its Inauspicious Effects On Democracy By Barrister Layi Ademokoya

Anti-Social Media Bill And Its Inauspicious Effects On Democracy By Barrister Layi Ademokoya

Anti-Social Media Bill was proposed by the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on the 5th Day of November 2019; particularly pioneered and duly sponsored by Senator Mohammed Sani Musa with the intention of criminalizing the use of social media in peddling false or malicious information. The name of the bill was further tagged as “Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulations Bill 2019”.

It is apropos to say that after the passage of this bill at the stage of second reading on the floor of senate the details were made public which actually generated a lot of controversy and assertions that the bill is of no good and purports to gag the mouth of citizens of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

In an outlook of the aforesaid events; it is visible to the blind and audible to the deaf that the proposed Anti-Social Media Bill will not arrive at an expected end by its promoters because it totally negates the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).

Section 39 subsection (1) and (2) respectively states that “Every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression including freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference. Subsection (2) Without prejudice to the generality of subsection (1) of this section, every person shall be entitled to own, establish and operate any medium for dissemination of information ideas and opinion:
The above provision gives room for dissemination of information which can possibly be true or false. An opinion given by an individual can be true or false depending on the knowledge the individual possesses in regards to such opinion; if an information received by a third party and disseminated by the said third party is false, will it be Democratic or Logical to make the dissemination of such information an offence? My answer is NO.

Each Individual understands and interprets information differently; therefore will communicating such information to a third party or the general public become an offence in a democratic nation? My answer once again is NO.

Anti-Social Media Bill purports to deny citizens of Nigeria their right of freedom of expression under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).

Freedom of expression is an idiosyncrasy of a democratic society and Nigeria is a democratic nation in which a law purporting to deny its citizens of his fundamental human rights will not stand as Nigeria is not China or Russia that practices an autocratic system of government.

Democracy by Abraham Lincoln is a government of the people, by the people and for the people, so this theory is a grail of a democratic nation in which the Laws are made in the interest of the people and not the Laws made against the people.

Needless to say that the plan to pass Anti-Social Media Bill into law is tantamount to taking away the voices of the citizens of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which is also a demonstration of the features of a dictatorship state that has no tolerance to criticism and genuine public opinion.

The malicious information or false allegations that the Nigerian government kicked against on the media can be perfectly remedied by our courts under a meritorious suit for either Libel or Slander hence the

rationale behind the National Assembly passing the said Anti-Social Media Bill is preposterous.
As a Human right advocate and a concerned citizen of our great country Nigeria I strongly recommend that this Anti-Social Media Bill should be discountenanced and should never be assented by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, peradventure it passes through third reading on the Floor of the Senate in order to avoid a similar misconception as regards passing into law the Companies and Allied Matters Act 2019, with some misconceived sections of this law that generated a lot of controversy.

Anti-Social Media bill without any wavering is undemocratic, unconstitutional, dictatorial, immoral, inequitable, unenforceable and if passed into Law can cause unrest, protest, chaos and eventually will fail the test of the Law if put to test in any competent court of jurisdiction.

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