Against the backdrop of the recent protest following the famed social media gag bill proposed by the Nigerian senate, a coalition of 20 Nigerian, African and International rights groups delivered a letter to the office of the Senate president to officials of the Nigerian Senate.
The letter cited concerns about freedom of expression and its criminalization under the Frivolous Petitions Prohibition Bill popular called the Social Media Bill or Social Media gag bill.
“The Frivolous Petitions Prohibition Bill is another attempt at limiting freedom of expression, especially on a platform that has allowed citizens to connect with others to take appropriate joint action against government inaction at various levels.Continued action on the bill by the Senate will further reinforce the trend of repressive legislation in the online space in Nigeria" said ‘Gbenga Sesan, Executive Director of Paradigm Initiative Nigeria.
The Bill received its second reading last month in the Senate which would lead to a third and final reading and eventually to the House of Representatives. And when made into law, offenders would be penalized with up to two years jail term and or ₦2,000,000.
Paradigm Initiative's Director also pointed out that the Cyber-crime Act with a stiffer 10 year jail term penalty has not been imposed yet as no cyber criminal has been convicted under it, yet withing a short while some bloggers had been arrested and detained.
Signatories to the open letter include Access Now, Association for Progressive Communications, Centre for Information Technology and Development, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Collaboration on International ICT Policy in East and Southern Africa (CIPESA), Committee to Protect Journalists, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Enough is Enough Nigeria, Freedom House, International Service for Human Rights, Internet Sans Frontieres, Media Rights Agenda, Paradigm Initiative Nigeria, Pen International, Pen Nigeria, Rudi International, Social Media Exchange (SMEX), Web Foundation, West African Journalists’ Association and Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum.
Image Credit; Naija Gists