Wednesday, 2 December 2015

2-year jail term proposed for abusive statements on social media

A bill seeking a two-year jail term for any person who makes allegation or publishes any statement or petition in the newspaper, radio or medium of whatever description against another person, institutions of government or any public office holder, passed second reading in the Senate, yesterday.


The bill also prescribed that anybody or group of persons who send any false text message or post false message on the social media against another person shall be jailed for two years upon conviction by the law court.

Vanguard reports that the bill, tagged: “A Bill for an Act to Prohibit Frivolous Petitions and other Matters Connected therewith”, sponsored by Senator Ibn Na’Allah, APC, Kebbi South, compels petitioners to accompany their petitions with sworn court affidavit, failure of which attracts a six- month imprisonment upon conviction.

But the bill provides for an option of N4 million for persons convicted of false newspaper, radio and television statements and N2 million for offenders of false phone text messages or messages on Facebook, twitter, Instagram, or  WhatsApp.

“Where any person in order to circumvent this law makes any allegation and or publish any statement, petition in any paper, radio, or any medium of whatever description, with malicious intent to discredit or set the public against any person or group of persons, institutions of government, he shall be guilty of an offence and upon conviction, shall be liable to an imprisonment term of two years or a fine of N4,000,000.00”,the bill specified.

Senator Na’Allah in his debate considered the bill as being too frivolous. He further reiterated that“The question to ask is, whether having passed the Freedom of Information Act which gives unfettered access by the public information from government offices they would be right for this government to continue to waste valuable time and resources in investigating frivolous petitions from the same public and I am sure you would find no difficulty in saying no to the ugly situation,”he stressed, while soliciting support for its consideration.

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