Reps reject suppression of social media

Signs emerged on Wednesday that the House of Representatives may not tow the path of the Senate over the controversial draft bill to “Prohibit Frivolous Petitions and Other Matters Connected Therewith”.

The House Committee on Media and Publicity has criticised the anti-social media bill proposed by the Deputy Senate Leader, Bala Ibn Na’Allah, saying the legislature would not do anything to close the space for free speech.

Chairman of the committee, Abdulrazak Namdas, expressed the disapproval while speaking to State House correspondents after a dinner hosted by President Muhammadu Buhari for members of the House of Representatives at the State House Banquet Hall on Wednesday.

“As chairman House Committee on Media, I must say that we cannot close space for free speech.

“We would like to ensure that there is free speech. And the only thing we try to enjoin is that journalists, who are trained, who know the ethics of journalism, should also join the social media activity so that we can differentiate between the grains and the chaff.

“I think that is most essential, but we should not leave it for just those who think they can just post anything.

“Ideally, I think it is very important that we allow free speech. With time, we will get to the level that we can regulate.

“For now I think Nigerians will rely on them.

“We came on the platter of change and it was this social media that brought us to power and we are making effective changes on that; I think we should live with that,” he said.

On the lawmakers’ interaction with the president, Mr. Namdas said the lawmakers were ready to support the federal government’s objective “particularly in the area of fighting corruption, generating employment and ensuring that we fight insurgency”.

“I think as a legislative arm of government we will ensure that all these things that he has placed at the front burner in his administration are supported,” he said.

Also speaking, Chukwuemeka Ujam, the deputy chairman, House Committee on Telecommunications, applauded the interaction, saying it was aimed at ensuring “good governance in the country.”