The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has called on relevant stakeholders to speak up with one voice against the Social Media Bill before the National Assembly, saying that the civil space will further shrink if the Bill succeeds.
Executive Secretary of the Commission, Tony Ojukwu Esq who stated this at the National Assembly premises Monday, immediately after the public hearing on the Social Media Bill regretted that the proposed Bill is merely a slight modification of the Cybercrime (Prohibition, Prevention etc.
The Bill expansively proscribes incendiary acts such as bullying, threatening or harassing other persons via communications places another person in fear of death, violence or bodily harm and these do not enhance freedom of expression as provided in relevant national, regional and international laws, he stated.
According to the Executive Secretary the Social Media Bill 2019 is replete with vague phrases framed around protection of national security, public health, public order/safety, public finance, bilateral relations with other countries or influencing the outcome of elections to any office.Specifically, Ojukwu cited Sections 1,3,4 and 5 of the Social Media Bill as merely regulating Section 22 of the Cybercrime Act of 2015, saying that what Nigeria really needs is strengthening the capacity of the existing laws enforcement agencies and acceleration of Cybercrime (Prohibition, Prevention etc ) Act 2015.
The Executive Secretary also advocated the idea of making the Cybercrime and other Security laws to conform with International standards as well as using the National Orientation Agency and the Federal Ministry of Information as veritable platforms to sensitize citizens against fake news, hate speech and religious/ethnic hatred.