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Presidency defends Hate Speech bill

The Presidency on Friday defended the National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speech Bill and the Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulation and Other Related Offences Bill currently being worked on by the Senate.

The Presidency urged Nigerians to embrace the bill, stating that countries all over the world were now making laws to regulate fake news and social media.

But members of the House of Representatives, however, told the Senate and the Federal Government that their constituents were against the proposed laws, stating that they would oppose the bills when transmitted to the House.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, while speaking at a media chat organised by the House of Representatives Press Corps in Abuja on Friday, urged the media to shed light on the benefits of the proposed laws.

Shehu said, “You people (the media) have to help the executive of the country on a matter that is very crucial at this time before the Nigerian parliament. This issue of fake news legislation that is being contemplated, the Minister of Information (Lai Mohammed), who speaks for the Nigerian government, has spoken of the necessity for a law to govern the social media.

“The thing is that I think there is a duty to rip it open and tell Nigerians what it contains. This Hate Speech bill is not all about the death penalty; it is not all about free speech. Is there content in that bill that prevents social media harm? I’ve seen what the British parliament is doing, for instance, that social media is being held accountable for what is called social media addiction among children.”

The presidential spokesman cited the example of India, which he said had been regulating the usage of the online messenger, WhatsApp, adding that European countries were also imposing heavy penalties on telecommunications companies.

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