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Clarifications on ‘Senate decision to jail’ social media users

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nigerian senate

The bill passed the second reading today, which states that social media user would be jailed who causes  public outrage of some sort. The bill was sponsored by  Senator Ibn Na’Allah (APC- Kebbi South) , and it “Prohibit frivolous Petitions and other Matters Connected therewith”

Sen-Bala-NaAllah

Senator Ibn Na’Allah

The bill reads: “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.”
The bill said it shall be an offence for any petition to be submitted without a sworn affidavit from the law court.
And since the bill hit the limelight, there has been misinterpretations and cross-examination.
Here is what Bukola Saraki says about the bill;
Read the press statement from the office of the Senate president below.
Clarification on false claim that Senate passed a bill proposing to jail social media users for two years. The bill being made reference to, is An Act to Prohibit Frivolous Petitions and Other Related Matters, which absolutely makes no mention of jailing social media users.

Senator Na’Allah’s bill seeks to make illegal, the common act of individuals sponsoring frivolous petitions to tarnish/blackmail public servants or political office holders for selfish purposes.The bill also seeks to make it a requirement for petitioners to depose to an affidavit in court which will must be attached to any petition. Where such petition is discovered to be frivolous, or mischievous or the fact there in are false, the proposed bill makes it a case of perjury which is an offense under the law.

The  Deputy Senate leader in his submission expressed concern that with such frivolous petitions, the right of an individual to be presumed innocent until proven guilty by a competent court, would have eroded such presumption of innocence as these petitions lead to media trials that hampers the rule of law.

In the developed societies and in particular, the US, if one files a petition with the Federal Bureau of Investigation or any other government agency, aimed at defaming someone, ruining their reputation or family and such petition is discovered to be false, such a person will be held liable and would pay dearly for it.

One can only imagine that if countries allowed dishonest elements to file petitions against their opponents without having to hold them accountable, this will amount to impunity.

Please find attached the lead debate to the said petition.
Signed

Bamikole Omishore
SA New Media
President of The Senate

senate president

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