Freedom of expression is not absolute, nothing can stop social media bill – Senator Na’Allah

Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah, the sponsor of the Frivolous Petitions bill, said there would be no going back on the bill.

The bill dubbed as the ‘social media bill’, proposes a two-year jail term or a N2 million fine or both for anybody that posts or broadcasts false, abusive statements on social media.

Na’Allah, the deputy majority leader of the Senate, says no amount of criticism and backlash from the public would force the lawmakers to abandon the bill.

“I sponsored the bill to sanitize information flow on the social media. The social media is a very valuable platform for dissemination of information and it has helped this country greatly but of recent we have seen some few ‘bad eggs’ who have turned it into a business venture.

“They collect money from people and go into the social media to tarnish the image of their political opponents. It is against this backdrop that we felt people should behave responsibly on the platform.

“They ask you to bring money or they post things that will portray you in bad light or alternatively they collect money from other political opponents and post unfavourable things about you. This is not going to augur well for this country.”

“I didn’t even know the Senate President has an issue with the Sahara Reporters until after Senator Dino Melaye raised a point of order on it on the floor of the Senate last Thursday.

“We had in our legislative agenda, the idea of making sure that this country is ruled by law and we are of the view that the only way this country can move forward is if there are laws and they are enforced and that was why the ICT committee of the Senate was created.

“We felt the need that all these things must be regulated. All the areas where we have seen hitches in our democratic journey, we want to make sure that they are corrected.”

“Don’t forget that the bill is going to go through public hearing wherein; the public is going to say their mind on it.

“There, they will speak on whether the bill is desirable or not but as a Senate, we should be seen to do something and the public should have a say in it but the public cannot blackmail us into saying that we cannot sit down and make laws for the country.

“If you have freedom of expression, it is not absolute. The fact that you have freedom of expression does not give you the licence to continue to go and make allegations against people because those people too have their own right, which is called dignity of human person.”

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