The sponsor of the Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulations Bill, also known as the Social Media Bill, Mr Mohammed Sani Musa, has said that he believes in freedom of speech and expression.
He said this on Wednesday while explaining the idea behind the proposed bill.
According to him, the reason for proposing the bill had nothing to do with gagging the press.
“My reason for bringing this bill actually is not to gag the press, I believe in the freedom of expression or freedom of speech,” he said on Channels TV’s Politics Today.
He, however, explained that information spreads at the speed of light on social media and some people have taken advantage of that to spread false news.
“I am one person that believes in the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“I believe also in the fundamental freedom of everyone and for every Nigerian to express his views as he wishes.
“The social media is a kind of network that disseminates information at the speed of light and for that reason, whatever we will do as a country or nation, we should be guided by some ethical conduct.
“In using social media today, you can see what has been happening,” he said.
Musa further explained that although the Constitution allows for freedom of expression, some regulative measures have to be put in place to curb the menace of fake news.
“As much as the Constitution guarantees this freedom, the Constitution also gives some adequate clauses, that will protect from any abuse of these laws.
“So, my bill is not to gag the press, but the regulate in a way in which we can conduct ourselves in the most civilized way using the internet,” he said.
His comments come hours after the bill passed its second reading at the floor of the Senate.
This is despite opposition to the proposed legislation by Nigerian citizens who are of the opinion that the bill seeks to stifle free speech.
During the debate, only one lawmaker, Senator Chimaroke Nnamani opposed the bill. He argued that there is legislation in the country namely the Cyber Crimes Act which addresses internet falsehood.
The Senate, however, directed its Committee on Judiciary to work on the bill and return in four weeks.