Reps flay social media gag law, back Buhari’s anti-corruption crusade

Friday Ajagunna
Friday Ajagunna
Dogara, Osinbajo and Buhari, during a Presidential Dinner with House of Representatives

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

The 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.”

On the lawmakers’ interaction with the President, Namdas said the Reps 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 we will ensure that we support him.”

The Adamawa legislator recalled that when the National Assembly passed the supplementary budget presented by Buhari “when the question was put there was no single member who said `no’ irrespective of which party they came from. I think we are supportive of Mr President.”

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

“It is interesting that two arms of government are seated right now, some part of the executive and the entire House of Representatives.

“We want to join forces to move the country forward. Whatever progress can be made, we will make.

“Listening to the speech of Mr President, he was candid; first of all, that he wants to secure the country and then manage it properly. We agree with that.

“If you also listened to the response by Mr Speaker, we agreed that we will work together, there will be times of rancour, but we will work seamlessly.”

On the fine imposed on MTN for violating Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) card registration regulation, the lawmaker said the Reps committee on Telecommunications was investigating “some salient points” in the matter.

Acknowledging that a motion to that effect was sent to the committee he said “we are just watching the scenario as it plays out and we will make our own points made known to the public.”

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