Nigeria’s Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, has said that the senate would not support any law that seeks to censor the media.
Saraki’s spokesman, Mr Bamikole Omishore, in a statement in Abuja, said the Senate President gave the assurance when he received members of the Online Publishers Association of Nigeria (OPAN) who visited him on Friday.
The visit of the group, led by its president, Olufemi Awoyemi, was in connection with a Bill titled ‘’Frivolous Petitions Prohibition Bill 2015,’’ otherwise called the Anti-Social Media Bill,’’ sponsored by Kebbi State Senator, Bala Na’Allah.
According to the statement, Saraki allayed the fears of the group and the public that the 8th Senate was committed to the principles of fair, responsible and open engagement and so would not support any form of media censorship.
“The Senate has no intention to pass any legislation to control or gag the press. You should also play your part to ensure that international best practices are adopted, while also abiding by the ethics of journalism,” Saraki said.
Owoyemi had earlier in his remark, noted that a section of the Bill aimed at criminalizing false statements and use of unsupported petitions on social media, and assured Saraki that the association comprised credible publishers of online platforms and newspapers with online presence.
According to him, the legislature remains critical to how Nigeria quickly harnesses the potentials of online technology and use of social media as a critical component of citizen engagement.
“We aim to ensure responsible conduct across digital platforms which in some cases were as simple as recognizing the variants in existing laws around newspaper, radio, television and digital publishing and broadcast,’’ he said.
He also noted that constitutionally provided freedom of expression and responsible conduct and engagement by users and publishers had a powerful link, the statement added.