The Senator representing Niger East Senatorial District, Sani Musa, has said that his bill on social media was aimed at guiding the users and not to gag media practitioners in Nigeria.
The bill titled, “Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulation Bill 2019, passed first reading on the floor of the Senate on Tuesday.
Justifying his reasons for reintroducing the bill in an interview with journalists, Musa said it was aimed at ensuring sanity on social media.
He said individuals who post false information on the internet, when found guilty would be asked to pay a fine of N150, 000 or they are sentenced to three months imprisonment.
The Senator added that any corporate organisation that refused to block false information after the regulating agency had alerted it would be asked to pay a fine ranging from N5m to N10m.
He also said telecommunications firms that allow their network to be used to disseminate false information, could risk yet-to-determined sanctions.
He said, “Nigeria is not only for government but for every Nigerian and we must all work towards moving this country to where it needs to be.
“You can see America and other advanced countries today, they have been for hundreds of years. They have their period of turmoil and challenges like ours but they have been able to pass through.
“How did they do it? There were legislations, and the rule of law because people adhere to laws.
“For a country like Nigeria today and with the advent of social media, there is every reason for a country to as much as possible focus it’s attention to see how this new media can be tolerated.”
He said it was possible for individuals to stay in a room and post a piece of false information just to attack someone.
The Senator said, “I have a passion for IT and I know what it takes to disseminate your information, it is at the speed of light.
“Some journalists will look at this legislation as if we are trying to bring a law that will gag the social media or the right to free press.
“It is a legislation that will guide how we can tolerate our activities on social media.
“False information has been disseminated so many times and they have caused so much chaos in different parts of the world.
“There are so many things that are positive within social media. For instance, a young lady that is getting married and wants the world to know could do so through social media.
“I felt we need it in this country. If countries like Philippines, Singapore, Italy, Malaysia, Australia, France, Indonesia, Egypt are attempting to control social media to prevent the spread of false information, what stops us from doing it?
“There has never been a time when Nigeria has been very fragile in terms of its unity than this period.
“It (social media bill) is not to stop people from going online to do whatever they feel is legitimate. What is wrong is for you to use the medium to document information that you know is false, just because you want to achieve your desirable interest.
“If you commit an offence of this nature, and by virtue of what you have committed, the law enforcement agencies will take you to the court.
“There will be a court process that will prove that you have done something wrong.
“You can appeal. It will serve as deterrence to others, we should fix certain penalties that when you know you will cough out something, you won’t do it.