The National Assembly is currently seeking to regulate social media with a problematic bill titled the “Protection from Internet Falsehoods and Manipulations and Other Related Matters Bill 2019″(PDF). The bill is sponsored by Muhammad Sani Musa of the Niger State East Senatorial District. The bill as pitched as a responsive call to action to curb the spread of falsehood and fake news in Nigeria which has apparently threatened the unity of the country.
The bill contains provisions that suggest that the transmission of a statement that is false or,
- Affect the security of any part of Nigeria.
- Affect public health, public safety, or public finance.
- Affect Nigeria’s relationship with other countries.
- Influence the outcome of an election to any office in a general election.
- Cause enmity or hatred towards a person or group of persons.
The violation of this provision will result in a fine of ₦300,000, ($826) 3 years imprisonment, or both (for an individual), and a fine not exceeding ₦10 million ($27,550) (for corporate organizations).
Naturally, the proposed bill has received blowback as it runs the risk of a chill effect on the right to free speech. It is based on this that TASCK Creative Agency and the Open Society Initiative for West Africa have put together a conference scheduled for the 10th of March, 2020 to be led by MI Abaga to provoke a necessary and coordinated conversation about the bill.
Also billed to speak are Banky W, Chigul, Kate Henshaw, Frank Donga, Dotun, Aphrodija and more.
The Conference will take place at Kairos Hub, Block 2, Briscoe Ford Centre, 94 Providence Street, Lekki Phase 1.