By Toby Prince
The Senate is proposing a three-year prison sentence for social media offenders.
The bill passed first reading on Wednesday.
Entitled ‘protection from internet falsehood and manipulations bill, 2019’, the bill is sponsored by Mohammed Sani Musa, senator representing Niger east.
The proposed legislation was one of the 11 bills read for the first time on Tuesday.
Speaking with journalists in Abuja, the sponsor of the bill said Nigeria needs the legislation because it would protect its “fragile unity”.
“There has never been a time when Nigeria has been very fragile in terms of its unity than this period,” Musa said.
“It is not to stop people from going into the internet to do whatever they feel legitimately is okay to do but what we felt is wrong is for you to use the medium to document information that you know is false, just because you want to achieve your desirable interest.”
He said the bill proposes a punishment of N150,000 fine or three years imprisonment for any offender.
“If it is a corporate organisation that refused to block that false information despite the fact that they have been alerted by authorities not to disseminate that information for public interest and they still go ahead and do it, refusing to do that blockage will be penalised between N5 million to N10 million for those organisations,” the senator said.
“For example, MTN, Glo, 9 mobile etc. which we use their platform in transmitting these information, if nothing is done, we fine them and you will see that it will be a deterrent to others.”
In the previous senate, there was a similar bill sponsored by Bala Na’Allah, then deputy majority leader.
But the bill was withdrawn after outrage by some Nigerians.