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SERAP Asks National Assembly To Reject Social Media Regulation Bill

The National Assembly has been urged to reject the recently reintroduced social media regulation bill.

The issue of regulating social media has generated interests across platforms since Director-General of the NBC, Balarabe Ilelah, announced that the regulation bill had been sent to the National Assembly.

Ilelah disclosed this when he hosted Minister of Information and National Orientation, Mohammed Idris, at the commission’s headquarters in Abuja earlier in the week.

Describing the ills of social media as a “monster”, Ilelah said the bill is seeking to repeal and reenact the NBC Act, CAP L11 laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004.

The NBC boss lamented that the current law does not give NBC the right to control social media.

Nigerians have expressed divergent views on the issue.

In a statement on Sunday, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) said the passage of the bill “would unduly restrict the rights to freedom of expression and privacy,” and urged President Bola Tinubu’s administration to stop its efforts to compel technological firms like Google and YouTube to restrict such “fundamental human rights.”

The group’s deputy director, Kolawole Oluwadare, who signed the statement, said SERAP believes the bill would “criminalise the legitimate and lawful exercise of human rights.”

The statement read, “The National Broadcasting Commission last week reportedly stated that, “one of Nigeria’s major problems now is social media,” and described social media as “a monster.”

“In the letter dated 14 October 2023, and signed by SERAP deputy director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said, “social media is neither Nigeria’s problem nor a monster. Any regulation of it would have arbitrary and excessive effects, and cause incalculable damage, both in material and human rights terms.

“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 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.”

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