Senate Seeks Two Years Jail Sentence For Social Media Users Who Circulate False Statement
The social media space on Wednesday literally went into overdrive mode following the disclosure that the Nigerian Senate passed for second reading, a bill that prescribes a two-year jail term for any person who makes false allegation or publishes any statement or petition in the newspaper, radio or medium of whatever description against another person, institutions of government or any public office holder.
It also seeks a two years jail term upon conviction by the law court, anybody or group of persons who send any false text message or post false message on the social media against another person.
The bill has been interpreted by most Nigerians, who rank among the highest users of internet in the world, as a ploy to suppress freedom of expression and gag the social media also known as citizen journalism.
The bill, titled: “A Bill for an Act to Prohibit frivolous Petitions and other Matters Connected therewith”, sponsored by Deputy Senate Leader, Bala Ibn Na’Allah (APC/Kebbi South), also makes it compulsory for petitioners to accompany their petitions with sworn court affidavit, failure of which attracts a six-month imprisonment upon conviction.
The bill, however, provides for an option of N4 million for persons convicted of false newspaper, radio and television statements and N2 million for offenders of false phone text messages or messages on Facebook, twitter, Instagram, or WhatsApp.
“Where any person in order to circumvent this law makes any allegation and or publish any statement, petition in any paper, radio, or any medium of whatever description, with malicious intent to discredit or set the public against any person or group of persons, institutions of government, he shall be guilty of an offence and upon conviction, shall be liable to an imprisonment term of two years or a fine of N4, 000, 000.00”, the bill specified.
On the social media, the bill read: “Where any person through text message, tweets, WhatsApp or through any social media post any abusive statement knowing same to be false with intent to set the public against any person and group of persons, an institution of government or such other bodies established by law shall be guilty of an offence and upon conviction, shall be liable to an imprisonment for two years or a fine of N2, 000, 000.00 or both fine and imprisonment”.