Anti-Social Media Law: Leaders Are Ignorant, Nigerians React
Reactions have continued to trail the decision to gag the social media by the Nigerian government.
The Nigerian government, on Wednesday, 2 December, proposed to the Senate, a bill restricting its citizens from expressing their views on the social media platforms.
Many Nigerians have taken to the National Assembly to protest the bill, describing as way of seizing the freedom of information.
A US-based Legal Practitioner, Dr. Ope Banwo, in a chat in Channels Sunrise Daily, said it is not only the social media, both radio and television stations are also involved and we must fight this now. We need to see how they can interpret this law the way they really want to get to.
On the ground of regulating the social media, Dr. Banwo stressed that: “The people talking about regulating the social media are really ignorant in the sense that it is regulated right now. If you post a picture about me that is false, I can report that to Facebook that it is offensive and not true, and within ten minutes, Facebook will remove that post.
“They are ignorant of that because they didn’t bother to go and learn how social media works. If an offensive post is made against someone and the person reports it, facebook will first block it and then send a note to the person who published it to give his reasons if the post was wrongly blocked. That is more than enough to say that social media is very regulated by those who run it.”
In the case of Sahara Reporters, Dr. Banwo noted that though what they are doing is good for Nigeria’s democracy, but if fault is found, what is to be done is simply report them to their hosting company who will in turn send them a letter to defend themselves.
“The government assumes that the masses have no power and so they can do whatsoever they want, but the masses will continue to let them know that we rule and not them. They were not complaining when we were maligning former President Goodluck Jonathan, Fani Kayode and the likes of them because it suited their purpose. Now that they are on the hot seat, they want to roll back the block. That cannot be done.
“If they go ahead to pass the bill into law, I will fly back to the US and use every money I have to fight this government in any way, because I will not stay in a country where I will not speak my mind. I will not stay in a country where I will be arrested simply because I shared information which is true.
“If your skin is too thin and you think you don’t want anyone to see the post you made, leave facebook. If you don’t want to be maligned for being bold enough to show us a bottle of Champaign worth N100,000, leave politics. And if you don’t want people to speculate on whether you stole money in one of the banks that you were president, then leave the government.
“If you have a right consultant or get your staff trained, and a particular blogger harasses you unfairly, report them to their hosting companies which are legally liable to take them down. You don’t even need to go to court. It is a total miscalculation.”
“I am a die-hard supporter of President Muhammadu Buhari, but if he has a hand in this, I resign. I quit from being his supporter,” Dr. Banwo further stressed.
Also reacting is the Manager, Enough is Enough, a Lagos-based social-political firm, Yemi Adamolekun. She said that all the senators used the social media when they were campaigning, reminding them that they might also need the platforms during their second tenure.
On her own, Yemi said: “Social media is a way of engagement. I used the social media for many purposes. I use it for press release and twit the content of my press release and if you ask me a question, I don’t respond. If you try to engage me, I don’t respond, but I tell you that I use social media and I share information.”
On the issue of using social media platforms to blackmail and intimidate people, Yemi said: “I can only blackmail you when I have facts about you that you don’t want to be made public. I can blackmail you through radio, phone call and a letter. Why so particular about social media?
“Social media is the only platform that a lot of Nigerians can have access to really express their freedom of information. All they need is data bundle. They don’t need money to pay radio or television stations to broadcast their views.
“Apart from China, I’m yet to see any democratic country that regulates the use of social media. What we need to increase is intelligence on the information used.”