Friday, December 4, 2015 9:58 pm
A senator from Lagos State, western Nigeria, Solomon Olamilekan Adeola (Yayi), has dissociated himself from the move by his colleagues to pass a bill that seeks to censor the activities of Nigerians on social media as well as gag the Nigerian press.
Nigerians have been rising against the move by the senate, but senate President Bukola Saraki, who has been severally bashed on Twitter and Facebook since the bill came to the fore, has said no amount of criticism would stop the upper legislative chamber from going ahead with the bill.
Senator Adeola, who took to Twitter on Friday, said though some Nigerians go haywire on social media because they have the opportunity to do so, that should not be the basis by his colleagues to censor the them.
With his handle, @YAYIAdeola, the senator said: “so much has been said in recent times about the bill to Prohibit Frivolous Petitions and Other Matters Connected Therewith (SB.143)
“This is to inform my followers who wants to know my stand on this very salient constitutional issue; I am for responsible use of social media.
“Since Section 39 of the Nigerian Constitution guarantees the right to freedom of expression and the press, I WILL NOT support the passage of a bill that seeks to criminalise the use of social media.
“I am active on Whatsapp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, I would be shooting myself in the foot supporting a bill criminalising use of social media.
“This is not to say I haven’t been at the receiving end of insults and lies on social media, but do we throw the baby away with the bathwater?
“Having said this, it should be noted that I am also against FALSEHOOD and ABUSE of people on all media.
“The rules of public engagement dictates that we must have mutual respect for each other.
“I have learnt not to reply people who are abusive in their engagements. We should set ourselves apart and be in our best behaviour always.”
Senator Adeola recalled the role social media had played in his political career especially during the last election.
He also recalled how he was rumoured to have died during the electioneering and how he was able to reach millions of people on social media to dispel the rumour “in a twinkle of an eye.”
“We owe our democracy today to heroes of the past, who did not allow the authorities that be to silence them. We MUST not do the same.
“I may not agree with what you have to say, but your right to say it must not be trampled upon,” he said.
Meanwhile, former chairman of the Ikeja, Lagos branch of the Nigerian Bar Association, Monday Ubani, has called on Nigerians not to allow the senate go ahead with the bill.
Ubani, who took a swipe at the senate while speaking on a radio programme on Friday, also warned the senate against passing the bill adding that Nigerians were watching and would take necessary actions soon.
The lawyer wondered why the Senate, filled with controversial people, could not copy their colleagues in China who enacted a law of death penalty on corrupt public office holders.
To Ubani, the Nigerian senators are mainly concerned with covering their tracks and this is the basis for the bill.