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2 Year Jail Term or N2 Million Fine proposed for “Abusive Statements on Social Media” inc. Twitter, Instagram & WhatsApp

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Senate Dec 1

The Senate yesterday December 1st

In December 2013, the Nigerian Senate reached an advanced stage of approval for a bill which proposed the following. Section 13 subsection 3 of the bill stated that: “Anyone who intentionally propagates false information that could threaten the security of the country or that is capable of inciting the general public against the government through electronic message shall be guilty of an offence and upon conviction shall be sentenced to seven years imprisonment or N5 million (fine).”

Now a new social media centered bill is making its way up the Senate approval chain.

The bill, tagged: “A Bill for an Act to Prohibit Frivolous Petitions and other Matters Connected therewith” is sponsored by Senator Ibn Na’Allah, APC, Kebbi South.

What is interesting about the bill is the potential for censorship of free speech including online and via apps such as Whatsapp.

Vanguard outlines the proposed Bill

What Does the Bill Propose?
The bill 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.

What Will be Done to Deter Abuse of the Bill
The bill said it shall be an offence for any petition to be submitted without a sworn affidavit from the law court.
“Not withstanding anything contained in any law, it shall be an unlawful to submit any petition, statement intended to report the conduct of any person for the purpose of an investigation, inquiry and or inquest without a duly sworn affidavit in the High Court of a state or the Federal High Court confirming the content to be true and correct and in accordance with the Oaths Act.

“Any petition and or complains not accompanied by a sworn affidavit shall be incompetent and shall not be used by any government institution, agency or bodies established by any law for the time being enforced in Nigeria.

“Any person who unlawfully uses, publish or cause to be published any petition, complaint not supported by a dully sworn affidavit shall be deemed to have committed an offence and upon conviction, shall be liable to an imprisonment for six months without an option of fine.

“Any person who acts, uses, or cause to be used any petition or complaints not accompanied by dully sworn affidavit shall be deemed to have committed an offence and upon conviction, shall be liable to an imprisonment for a term of two years or a fine of N200,000.00 or both, “the petition read.

Follow the Session on the Bill Yesterday via Tweets

BellaNaijarians, what are your thoughts on this?

61 Comments

  1. Iris

    December 2, 2015 at 9:58 pm

    In other words, free speech is hereby prohibited. Meanwhile the one about specifying the legal age of an adult as it concerns married ‘women’ (*cough* girls) is floating around somewhere under Yerima’s chair.

    • Ann

      December 3, 2015 at 12:03 am

      Free speech is not prohibited, spreading stupid propaganda is. I support this bill. There’s so much junk journalism and fake stories floating around Nigeria that no one knows what’s true or not anymore.

    • hezekina pollutina

      December 3, 2015 at 5:52 am

      And you think mainstream media and official press releases are going to represent the truth? I would rather all the junk to filter through with my critical faculties than my rights and liberties trampled on.

    • Iris

      December 3, 2015 at 6:27 am

      You do realise that they’re planning to lump speaking out against stolen funds on social media into this category, right? Before you say ‘1, 2’ they’ll be sending people to prison on ‘unfounded slander’ or ‘groundless accusatory discussions.’ Believe me, it is not junk journalism they’re trying to prevent because half of their media reps probably fall into that category

    • Dayo

      December 3, 2015 at 4:48 pm

      @Ann, nobody forces to read anything. If you think something’s “junk”, then do not read it. How difficult can it be? If folks are to be thrown in jail for spewing nonsense, the entire Senate would be behind bars!

    • nene+

      December 3, 2015 at 3:01 am

      Very good! You are welcome Change is here!!!!

      How could i have supported a dictator? God forbid!! Nallah very good. All we warned APC change chanters are playing out in less than 1 year.

      Sad at what myopic voters have brought on Nigerians. More so from a party who won its election majorly with the aid of social media hurling insults on GEJ.

      Nigerians enjoy your change. more is coming but you know what? his worshipers wont see it.

      GEJ God bless you for the freedom you gave us to ventilate. I miss you personally my Hero!!! I hope some will further realize why we call you a Hero!!!!

      Waiting for 2019 to boot out these dirty bunch of dictators and their species of crass worshipers.

    • X

      December 3, 2015 at 5:02 am

      Sigh.! Hero my y*nsh. GEJ was the president in 2013!

    • Dara

      December 3, 2015 at 11:01 am

      @ too many illiterates here and hypocrites too. so now a bill that started in 2003 under GEJ is Buhari’s fault? this same bill has been supported by PDP senators even the deputy Senate leader and minority leader ( both PDP) but its still Buhari’s fault abi? Even though the bill has not even reached Buhari’s table. The same PDP apologist that once said PDP is in charge of the senate since they choose the Senate president and they have the Deputy Senate president is suddenly absolving PDP of all responsibilities? chai

    • Mohammad

      December 3, 2015 at 5:36 am

      First they came for the gays.
      I did not speak.
      Then they came for I Am Jazz
      I rejoiced
      Now they have come for my Facebook, Whatsapp and Instagram..
      That’s just too far.

      This is what happens when a people do not call out infringement of human rights in what is meant to be a secular polity. The abuses can stretch a looooooooooong way to everything that goes against our so-called culture. The same breath that you take in supporting the castigation of homosexuals because of another person’s personal beliefs is the same one that will allow the repression of free speech.

      Welcome to the madhouse!

    • Tilda

      December 3, 2015 at 7:45 am

      Yeap you said it. Who is to define what abusive language, prperganda is? One man’s freedom of speech is a dictatorship propaganda It’s a mind field. Bella and linda hummmmmmmmmmm!. Big brother tinz. Sooooooo glad I do not live in that hell hold. Tinz are about to be come a [email protected]#K Load. Shittier !. @nene I’ll be careful if I were you. Idi Amin had a special force that visited “outspoken” people and taught them a lesson. Hummmmmmmmmmm!

    • Ayo

      December 3, 2015 at 10:01 am

      First they took away the right to free flow of money for business and pleasure (officially it’s called capital controls and it’s what all the backwards governments like Argentina’s etc have done in a crisis). Now they’ll take away our freedom of speech. Goodluck Jonathan, I miss thee.

  2. meah

    December 2, 2015 at 10:24 pm

    Very nice one
    We are back
    Decree 4,1984
    God bless you once more

  3. Gold digger

    December 2, 2015 at 10:27 pm

    There goes our freedom of speech. Change is here. I knew Buhari was a mistake,

    • ElessarisElendil

      December 3, 2015 at 12:58 am

      Let me understand you, you’re blaming Buhari for the SENATE making a law??

      SMH.

    • Gold digger

      December 3, 2015 at 1:39 am

      keep shaking, I hope it doesn’t fall off too.
      Is the final bill not sent to the President after approval by the SENATE?. Isn’t it only if the President approves of the legislation and he signs it that it a becomes law?

    • left brain psycriatric doctor

      December 3, 2015 at 4:40 am

      Keep fooling your sels ellesandril! The person who pushed for this bill Na allah represents Kebbi state and a buhari praise vulature

    • iyke

      December 3, 2015 at 11:12 am

      lizard. keep shaking.

    • Valerie

      December 3, 2015 at 9:32 am

      Excuse you, is it Buhari making the laws, hold the right people accountable.

  4. Odi

    December 2, 2015 at 10:28 pm

    Change has come! Change you can believe in! We are about to be set back to the fifth world. Dictatorship is back. Where are the sai buharians and the trekkers? Come out and talk lets hear what you have to say about this

  5. Scared homosapien

    December 2, 2015 at 10:42 pm

    They had better start building more prisons cos the ones available will not be enough. Plus, I’m not willing to share a bed/space with murderers and thieves. My stay in the prison has to be dignified (as someone who just yabbed a govt in power).

    • Research Maverick

      December 3, 2015 at 3:26 am

      (LMAO)!!! Sacred Homo sapien!!! You are brilliant!!!

  6. jasmine

    December 2, 2015 at 10:48 pm

    Scared homo-sapien, I love you.

  7. mary

    December 2, 2015 at 10:48 pm

    And when they were campaigning my dad said it! He was warning Nigerians! My other siblings were shouting change! Tufiakwa!!! Change shame! Nigerians una don see? Shame on people who voted this government into power! Nigeria is sick!

    • *curious*

      December 2, 2015 at 11:44 pm

      I’m confused by your statement. Was Buhari/APC in power in 2013?

  8. laura

    December 2, 2015 at 10:48 pm

    Well, there you have it! You wanted change from the very same man who headed the country as a dictator years earlier? You got it! Well done everyone.

    • Lexi

      December 2, 2015 at 11:03 pm

      There you have what? Do you know anything about how the senate works? Please go and do your research before posting useless comments.

  9. Angel

    December 2, 2015 at 11:01 pm

    Here’s the change you guys voted for. And to think someone actually predicted that this will happen, it was during the APC/PDP election saga, a bv made a comment regarding this. Nigerians deserves everything they are getting now, gullible fellows mtcheeew.

  10. Bee

    December 2, 2015 at 11:05 pm

    I welcome this law as long as it not abused. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the provisions highlighted above. It clearly states that it applies to persons who “intentionally” disseminate “false” information. You would need to know that such information is false and then intentionally spread it. This absolutely has nothing to do with free speech and everything to do with preventing people from creating public unrest (this has been prevalent with tribal issues). Also, the legal standard for most cases is “he who asserts must prove”, therefore it’ll be left to the government/plaintiff to prove that such information is indeed false, the person knew it was false and spread it.

    I don’t see how this impedes freedom of speech. Even the US (the land of free speech) has similar laws against hate speech, provocative speech and speech likely to incite violence.

    BN – I think with some of these legal based news releases you should have a lawyer provide a breakdown of what exactly it means, and how it is to be interpreted.

    • eve

      December 3, 2015 at 2:46 am

      Sweetie, it’s Nigeria we are talking about here. Every law is abused.

    • Erinma

      December 3, 2015 at 2:00 pm

      This is an unnecessary law because there are provisions for libel and defamation. Plus this is a law for the ‘government’ to sue its citizens that it works for.How does that make sense? Respect is not given but earned, let them do the work we sent them there to do and no one will abuse them.It is because they have consistently not served the people that they have been abused. Whilst we can even say one should not use abusive language, where have you ever heard of citizens being sued because they say their government is useless? These people are not ‘rulers’, this is not an autocracy, we are well within our rights to express criticism and disdain. Plus as this is Nigeria where the citizens will is ignored constantly,of course the laws are going to misused.This is just another way to harass opposition as well. Kainene sha.

  11. Thatgidigirl

    December 2, 2015 at 11:10 pm

    Bunch of clowns, all of them!!! It won’t fly

  12. Tosin

    December 2, 2015 at 11:12 pm

    lol.
    first of all, I AM THE GOVERNMENT.
    The lawyer who drafted “against the government” is an idiot. No need to read more. This is disgraceful.
    PS I need a job, hire me.

  13. Ebere

    December 2, 2015 at 11:13 pm

    Dictatorship……………

  14. Nne

    December 2, 2015 at 11:16 pm

    In order words media houses should refrain from government gist, because if you post something that they do not like even of it may be true they can still claim lies and place a fine.

    Basically we would now have limited stories on what is happening in the government?

    I am not a fan of GEJ at all. Did not even bother to vote in any election. I keep saying the reason some Nigerians think GEJ is the most corrupt is because he gave free will to the media, otherwise we would not have known anything.

    We get the leaders we deserve because we know nothing about our history. Former pdp members who were part of the destruction of Nigeria would come up with a new name and shout change and the youth would lap it up

  15. aikay

    December 2, 2015 at 11:38 pm

    Always forming laws with zero implementation, since they passed the exam malpractice law yrs ago I am yet to see anyone sentenced to 29 yrs imprisonment . MTCHEWWWW all talk and no work…..

  16. Taju

    December 3, 2015 at 12:10 am

    Like they even no what social media really. Am sure most of them have people tweeting and posting on facebook for them. Awon baba oniranu.

  17. Mabel

    December 3, 2015 at 12:13 am

    To my understanding a bill is not law and it can be struck down with enough votes, at least that is how I know the government work in my country. I don’t know if Nigeria has MPs where citizens can petition their MPs to vote against the bill in parliament.

    Is communism or sharia law coming to Nigeria???

  18. Bade

    December 3, 2015 at 12:27 am

    They’re just trying to cover their own butts because of their intention to steal. Even if they passed it, they don’t have the mechanism to adequately track and prosecute so they can go to blazes with their bill. Rubbish.

  19. ElessarisElendil

    December 3, 2015 at 1:16 am

    8 comments, 279 upvotes all blaming the Executive for legislative act, where did we go wrong in this country? I’m going to assume you guys are science students or skipped Government class.

    Rather than blaming the wrong arm of government, why not try writing letters to your representatives urging them to rescind support for the bill, threatening them with recall?

    Personally I agree with the bill as presented, Section 39(if memory serves) of the constitution already preserves your precious rights freedom of expression free press, so rest easy. Start fretting when they start moving for constitutional amendment. This if you read the part BN clearly made BOLD works on two basis:

    1. You knowingly make a FALSE statement.

    2. You have the MALICIOUS intent of engendering PUBLIC OPINION against the government.

    Not too major and constraints I agree with.

    • Lexi

      December 3, 2015 at 2:18 am

      I was asking myself the same question. Is it that Nigerians don’t know that the president is most likely not even the one that proposed this bill to be implemented? I’m pretty sure that since we are in a democracy just like the USA and so many other countries. The president usually doesn’t propose bills, he only signs them into law, obviously this idea was brought up in 2013, way before Buhari became president, and back then the majority was in the house was PDP. I guess they don’t teach this in Nigerian schools. As soon as any bill is passed that is not in favor of the citizens, they start blaming the president. smh

    • Ada Nnewi

      December 3, 2015 at 7:23 am

      Elessaris, the thought process applied in the comments blaming the executive for legislative action seriously weakened me

    • Las

      December 3, 2015 at 10:00 am

      Gbam! chop kiss. I bet you made an A in Government 😉
      Just so sad to read comments from supposedly ‘enlightened’ folks.

    • sara

      December 3, 2015 at 2:34 pm

      Elesis, Ada nnewi and co…First of all Ada nnewi this is the kind of comment that can only allow you make a sentence..others thoughts in favor of who you believe in only boost ur ego…u and missy j…(2) Eleshi abi Elesisis i will like to know where you are based currently? If in Nigeria, i understand you discern of what is becoming of Nigeria generally already in the future, If not, Sister yes we know you had an A+ in Government, with ur intelligence in schooling us Nigerians to act according to how we were taught, in government, u realised that nonsensical issues as this wouldnt spring up its ugly head if our Government(leaders et al) also play to acting out how they were bin taught in Government…

      Elesis we agree u sabi book, please stop schooling Nigerians!!! we dont want it again..if our leaders v decided to play n use irrelevant matters as basis for governing this country, it is only necessary that nigerians too play and use this ‘irrelevant matters’ as subject to getting what we want and need and things be done!

      The necessary and most important things to work out for by our leaders are not been worked out with due process n u open Ur mouth to tell Nigerians who are already in pains to follow due process in government?

      yes, if we blame the executives for legislative matters, it is only because our leaders caused so!!!!! overtime we have seen where the Executives and legislatures dabble, infringe and work hand in hand in matters.. believe me when i say both tiers are working together! ONLY IN NIGERIA!! so my dear allow the backlash!

    • Dayo

      December 3, 2015 at 4:57 pm

      And who would get into your head to decide if you “knowingly” made a false statement or if you had “malicious intent” when you made it? The great thing about free speech is that it regularly validates the saying that the greatest antiseptic to stupidity is exposure to sunlight! [email protected]

  20. chi-e-z

    December 3, 2015 at 1:41 am

    Wow it’s really happen Nigeria is turning worse than China even North Korea in freedom of speech. This senate is your job to prohibit everryone from gays, porn, to just anyone make a statement on social media…fix roads no, fix educaion no, fix light no haba una dey try well welllu -__- Oya shebi all of una wey dey carry change 4 head now Buhari and co. ruling governor,pres., senate take your change nauw. tschew Nigeria backwards ever….

  21. Gold digger

    December 3, 2015 at 1:55 am

    keep shaking, I hope it doesn’t fall off too.
    Is the final bill not sent to the President after approval by the SENATE?. Isn’t it only if the President approves of the legislation and he signs it that it a becomes law?

  22. Omolola

    December 3, 2015 at 2:11 am

    It is so sad that the average Nigerian doesn’t know the different arms of government and their responsibilities.

    • ogeAdiro

      December 3, 2015 at 3:16 am

      The president of a country is the de facto leader of his political party. In the case of Nigeria, the Senate majority belongs to the president’s political party. So, I think it’s understandable that some people are seeing this as Buhari’s handiwork.

    • sara

      December 3, 2015 at 2:38 pm

      it is also sad that as a nigerian, an adult for that matter, u havent still come to realise that only in Nigeria, d executive sometimes function the work of legislative and vice versa…Dont tell me u still havent understood the kind of politics been played in Nigeria…Better drop that government book and face front to what is happening in your country realistically!.

    • ElessarisElendil

      December 4, 2015 at 1:28 am

      But? But? I thought we were ll rejoicing when Saraki da Rebel AKA the guy that was not imposed AKA the guy with the PDP deputy was voted in. Did we not applaud it……………now you’re telling us it was a long con all along so Buhari could control the senate. All this planning from a supposed dullard!

      You guys have simply stopped letting logic bother you. I’m as centrist as possible, if you do not want a bill passed TELL YOUR REPRESENTATIVES!! Do something to show you actually deserve democracy.

      This bill is no different from Germany’s anti Nazi laws. Is the fact that ‘free speech’ is limited there stopping it from progress? Come on people!

  23. Hanee

    December 3, 2015 at 2:53 am

    But we can do it on snapchat?

    • ElessarisElendil

      December 4, 2015 at 1:28 am

      Outside the box thinking. Chop knuckle.

  24. Author Unknown

    December 3, 2015 at 4:16 am

    PDP *nenne is missing in action. LOL. Perhaps he or she is working overtime…so as to gather N2m and avoid jail time.

    Nigerians be talking about freedom of speech. Since when?

  25. Moji

    December 3, 2015 at 5:06 am

    Lol… People looking for opportunity to argue. Fine it was brought up by an APC senator but why then was it supported by Ikweremandu, Akpabio(PDP senators)? Are they any different?
    Bringing Buhari into this is low. Why didn’t other PDP senators move against it or least alert the public of the bill?
    I have nothing to say on the bills

    • ElessarisElendil

      December 4, 2015 at 1:35 am

      This is simply a distraction. Watch how this will distract us while their fellow partners in crime AKA the Governors reduce the minimum wage, while they the senators blatantly refuse to slash their expenses. I’m starting to believe the rumour of our politicians being smarter than all of us.

  26. DD

    December 3, 2015 at 7:48 am

    What a joke….

  27. Halima

    December 3, 2015 at 8:29 am

    Lol so many dumb GEJ followers. This bill was initiated 2013 in your super hero’s regime. Cant you read? Smh.

    • Reverse

      December 3, 2015 at 9:35 am

      You’re the dumb one Halima.

      Bill proposed in 2013 , has been gathering dust. The dictator is back and this bill feeds perfectly into his Change mantra, so the rubber stamp senate has dusted it and it’s now passed second reading! They didn’t bother with Jonathan cos he was all for free speech! Where’s the PIB? Is this junk bill more important?

      Most importantly, where’s Ada Nnewi?

  28. Tari

    December 3, 2015 at 9:35 am

    Waiting to hear the response of the social media senator, Mr. Ben Bruce. Showbiz politician.
    He must apply his nauseating common sense to this ill-thought out bill. His silence is deafening.
    On a related note, it is obvious that those dragging Buhari into this mess (as if he does not have enough mess of his own) skipped Civic Studies lessons in primary school. Even if you were a science student who did not study Government, what happened to Civic Studies in primary school?
    If GEJ was not such an uninspiring failure, we would not have had to consider Buhari as an option.
    These goons are all the same irrespective of the acronym they congregate under.

    • nnenne

      December 3, 2015 at 11:08 am

      Tari… If PMB is the only alternative to GEJ, in a country of over 160 million people, then we have a problem. There’s really no excuse for this mess.
      Greediness of top ranking politicians, brought us here. Simple! Please don’t sugar coat it.

      I do not belong to any political party , for those who care to know.

  29. Anonymous

    December 3, 2015 at 4:04 pm

    How does this contribute in feeding the helpless kids, widows, poppers littered around the streets? Or the countless unemployed youths? Instead of passing a bill on “legalization of humanitarianism”, “equal distribution of the national cake”, this man is busy quenching a fire burning in the lawn when an entire building is far ablaze…first thing first; SEEK FIRST THE KINGDOM OF DEFEATING CORRUPTION, AND OTHER THINGS SHALL BE TREATED LATER!!!

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