Lai Mohammed, minister of information, says he is not aware of the “Protection From Internet Falsehood and Manipulations Bill, 2019” before the national assembly.
Referred to as “social media bill”, it is being sponsored by Mohammed Musa, senator representing Niger east. The bill seeks to regulate social media.
Despite sparking controversy, it has since passed second reading at the senate.
But speaking in an interview with DW’s Tim Sebastian, Mohammed said such a bill does not exist, asking who authored it.
“Who is the author of that bill, I am not even aware of it. There’s no such bill before the house. I can say that categorically and authoritatively that there’s no such bill before the house,” Mohammed said.
The minister also spoke on the “National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speeches Bill 2019’, which has been described as extreme and as an infringement on the fundamental human rights of Nigerians.
On the hate speech bill, Mohammed said it is ignorant for anyone to accuse the government of President Muhammadu Buhari of pushing it.
The bill seeks death penalty for any person found guilty of any form of hate speech that results in the death of another person but Abdullahi Sabi, also a senator from Niger who is its sponsor, has agreed to review the aspect of death penalty.
“What is even more shocking here is the ignorance of people. There’s what we call separation of power in major democracies. This particular bill you’re talking about is a bill submitted not by the executive but by the legislative arm of government, so how can you accuse the executive?” he asked.
“Do we have a choice which bill goes through or not. The government does not come in until when the bill has been passed.
“The only thing you can do as a president is refusing your to assent to such a law. The law has not even been passed. It is still with the senate. So, how does the president stop it without being accused of dictatorship? We don’t micromanage the parliament.”