The Federal Government of Nigeria has renewed its call for the regulation of social media.
This is coming after Nigerians, through social media, mobilised and hit the streets to call for an end to police brutality.
The protest was dubbed #EndSARS.
It soon turned into an international one as people in the UK, the US, and other countries joined.
However, on Tuesday, Nigerian information minister, Lai Mohammed, once again called for social media regulation.
Lai made the renewed call while addressing the House Committee on information, national orientation, ethics and values.
The minister was there to defend the 2021 budget proposed by his ministry.
He said: “We are sitting on a time bomb on this issue of fake news.
“They mobilised using social media. The war today revolves around two things. Smartphones and data and these young men don’t even watch television or listen to the radio or read newspapers.”
Lai maintained that he wasn’t calling for the shut down of social media.
However, he said that there is a need to check its excesses, especially fake news.
Government’s efforts to regulate social media
The Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulation Bill 2019 was proposed to regulate social media.
The bill was introduced by the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on November 5, 2019.
Also known as the Social Media Bill, it would give the government access to shut or cut off internet access at its discretion.
Part of the bill states: “The law enforcement department may direct the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) to order the Internet access service provider to disable access by users in Nigeria to the online location, and the NCC must give the Internet access service provider access blocking order.”
The Cybercrime Act of 2015 is another attempt to gag press freedom in Nigeria.
Section 24 of the act has immense implications for online press freedom in Nigeria and freedom of expression in general.
This section has been used to arrest and harass online journalists.
Abubakar Sidiq Usman was arrested On August 8, 2015, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for criticising the commission in his blog.
On September 2015, Emmanuel Ojo, a blogger, was forced into political exile following threats to his life after he published a story about money laundering involving the first lady of Ogun State.