As part of efforts to ensure that the constitutional rights of Nigerians are not taken away from them, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, on Monday, urged the leadership of the National Assembly to resist all pressures to pass the anti-social media bill, which it said is anti-people and unconstitutional.
In a statement released by the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan, the party called on Nigerians, including the media, organized civil society and all pro-democracy groups, to unite against moves to pass the anti-social media bill at the National Assembly. READ ALSO: Bishop Oyedepo Attacks President Buhari
Ologbondiyan said: “The PDP said it is time for Nigerians to eschewed all political, sectional and religious differences and stand in unity against a bill that is clearly designed to suppress and silence the people, emasculate institutions of democracy, particularly the media, take away the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of speech of citizens and turn them into conquered people without a voice, in their own country.
“It is clear that this bill is part of the anti-democratic moves to further emasculate the 1999 Constitution (as amended) ostensibly as a prelude to foisting full totalitarianism in our country, where citizens will no longer have the right to freely hold or support opinions.
“It is obvious that the reason for this bill is to suppress democratic rights and prevent Nigerians, the media, civil society groups, pro-democracy organizations, the opposition and dissenting voices from freely criticizing the atrocities, abuses, incompetence, corruption, security compromises, nepotism and general misrule that have pervaded the Buhari-led administration.
“The PDP, therefore, urges the leadership of the National Assembly to resist all pressure from enemies of our democracy to pass this unconstitutional and anti-people bill.”
The call by the PDP is coming in line with the proposed public hearing put together by the upper chamber on anti-social media bill.
The bill, entitled “Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulation Bill,” sponsored by Senator Musa Mohammed (Niger East), passed through second reading in January before being referred to the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Legal Matters headed by Senator Opeyemi Bamidele.
Socio-cultural groups such as Afenifere, the Nigerian Guild of Editors, NGE, the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, and Civil Society Organisations, who at the weekend reiterated their opposition to the bill, saying there was absolutely no need for the bill were among those invited to grace the public hearing.
Spokesman of the Yoruba socio-cultural group, Afenifere, Mr Yinka Odumakin, told newsmen that the group will not be part of a public hearing that is meant to scuttle the rights of Nigerians to air their views.
According to Odunmakin: “It is nauseating that those who are furthering the agenda of terrorists by considering a bill to create an agency for terrorists would want to criminalise speech by those who carry no weapons other than their tongues.
He stressed that as far as Afenifere was concerned: “they are only waging war against open society while encouraging the spread of terror by pampering terrorists with an agency.”