by Adeola Balogun
A controversial bill, which provided a 7-year-jail term to punish “social media critics”, has been withdrawn by the Nigerian Senate.
The offending provision which was contained in section 13 (3) of the proposed law on electronic fraud was removed following fears that it could be abused and misinterpreted.
The development was disclosed yesterday by Senator Gbenga Kaka of Ogun .
The section stipulates a seven-year jail for people who intentionally publish slanderous messages about government electronically.
“Anyone who intentionally propagates false information that could threaten the security of the country or 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. “
Kaka, who announced to newsmen, said the decision was taken after due consultation with stakeholders.
“Following the public hearing which was held after the second reading, the section 13 (3) of the provision was taken exception to by the social media.
“And since the bill is now in the public, I decided to consult with the Senate Committee Chairman on Information, Media and Public Affairs, and that of Judiciary.
“After consultations, we resolved that section 13 (3) of the proposed bill could be abused at any point in time and could be misinterpreted.
“And as a result, I have their permission to announce to the world that that section shall be deleted.”
The bill is entitled: ‘’A bill for an Act to provide for the prohibition of and punishment for electronic fraud and crime in all electronic transactions in Nigeria.’’
The bill passed through the second reading in the senate and was greeted with a lot of criticism from the social media.
Kaka expressed gratitude for all the contributions made both locally and internationally, adding that they further enriched the bill.
He added that more suggestions and debates concerning the bill would still be welcomed, to further enrich it in the overall interest of the country.
The lawmaker emphasised that the bill was not to gag the media but rather targeted against the misuse of the Internet, to curb the activities of scammers.
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