‘It’ll make Nigeria safe’—Presidency backs social media regulation bill/ Shehu

The Presidency has thrown its weight behind the proposed social media bill currently being debated at the National Assembly, stressing the country faces several threats if social media is left unchecked.

Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, made the observation while speaking at the Kawararafa Media Award, organized by Kwararafa Reporters, a news magazine.

According to Shehu, who was represented by Deputy Director, Information, State House, Attah Esa, the proposed social media bill should not be seen as an attempt by the Federal Government to muzzle free speech as widely alleged in some quarters.

He stated such measure should rather be seen as efforts to ensure safety of Nigerians, arguing that social media without regulation brings about lawlessness which could cause violence.

He said: “For instance, the entire Kasuwan Magani saga that resulted in the death of more than 50 people was because someone posted misleading information on WhatsApp that went viral.

“All countries in the world are trying to make laws to check the excesses. Many countries are trying to control the situation. The Europeans have placed a new law that holds the companies responsible.

“In the United Kingdom, the parliament has received a report on social media. There is a youth addiction to it, just like cigarettes. Without any form of control, it has done harm to women, ethnic minorities, individuals, institutions and countries.”

The President’s aide recalled the threats posed by social media informed earlier calls on stakeholders to agree on ways of tackling misinformation in the country by the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed.

He added: “The federal government is saying that stakeholders should come together and agree on regulation. We know that no matter how bad the situation it favours someone.

“Some have argued that our constitution already has laws in libel, but the laws of the ‘60s never anticipated social media.

“No government has the right to muzzle freedom of speech. We don’t support the taking of lives as punishment. People insult others and share false information on social media. I hope that hate speech will be tackled so that Nigeria will be a safe place to live in.”

The Special Adviser to the President, Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina and Shehu were honoured with “Media Excellence of the Year’’ at the event.


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