Nigerians and Advocacy Groups Voice Concerns Over Potential Restrictions on Freedom of Expression
In a recent development, the National Assembly is facing increasing pressure to reject the revived social media regulation bill, a move that has sparked intense debates across various platforms. The bill, which seeks to repeal and reenact the NBC Act, CAP L11 laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004, was announced by Balarabe Ilelah, the Director-General of the NBC, during a meeting with the Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, at the commission’s headquarters in Abuja.
Describing social media as a “monster,” Ilelah argued that the current legislation does not grant the NBC the authority to control social media—a stance that has triggered diverse reactions among Nigerians.
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) released a statement on Sunday expressing deep concern over the potential impact of the bill. According to SERAP’s deputy director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the passage of the bill “would unduly restrict the rights to freedom of expression and privacy.” The organization urged the administration, particularly President Bola Tinubu, to halt efforts compelling technological firms like Google and YouTube to limit these “fundamental human rights.”
Oluwadare stated, “Any move to regulate social media would be inconsistent and incompatible with the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended] and the country’s international human rights obligations.” The organization believes that the bill, if passed, would “criminalize the legitimate and lawful exercise of human rights.”
Highlighting the potential consequences, the statement emphasized, “The reintroduction of the social media regulation bill would lead to deterioration of the human rights situation in the country and carry major economic costs for all sectors, as well as exacerbate social and economic inequalities.”
As the debate continues to unfold, Nigerians are closely watching the proceedings in the National Assembly, with a growing chorus of voices advocating for the rejection of the social media regulation bill.
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