By Luminous Jannamike
A civil society group, Centre for Liberty (CFL), has written the Senate demanding the immediate publishing of the report of its public hearing on the Social Media Bill.
The Senate committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters had on March 9th, 2020 held a public hearing where interested parties gave their opinions as well as suggestions on the bill.
During a pro-democracy demonstration at the National Assembly on Tuesday, the co-convener of CFL, Mr Raphael Adebayo, said the group took the decision to write the Senate because it was not within its purview to demand that the true will of Nigerians concerning the Bill be known.
Adebayo explained that the letter was addressed to the Committee Chairman, Senator Opeyemi Bamidele, because he reserved the power to publish the outcome of the public hearing, as provided by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
He said, “As the chairman of the Senate committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, we believe that you have a great responsibility to defend the rights of Nigerians to freedom of expression and digital freedom.
“We equally believe you owe it to your constituents and Nigerians to support an approach that seeks to solve the problem of disinformation through democratic means; like our democratic solutions document proposes. That is why your committee’s report, reflecting the will of Nigerians as demonstrated during the public hearing on the Social Media Bill, is crucial to the interment of the Bill.
“Our earnest demand, therefore, is that you please move swiftly to publish the report of your committee on the Social Media Bill and let the true will of Nigerians be known to the committee of the whole, as well as support the swift burial of the antidemocratic Bill in the Red Chamber.”
Speaking also, CFL’s Maryam Ahmed said that as part of efforts to support the 9th National Assembly and the Federal Government in the fight against disinformation (Fake News) and Hate Speech in Nigeria, the organization has worked on a document titled ‘Democratic Solutions to Fake News and Hate Speech.’
“This document contains an extensive research and recommendations on what other democratic countries like Nigeria are doing to deal with the problem of Fake News in their countries,” she said.
There was a heavy presence of security operatives during the public march, but no protester was arrested for either breach of the public peace or violation of COVID-19 protocols.