The minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, on Saturday, February 1, has said he’s not aware of the social media bill debate in the National Assembly, sponsored by Senator Mohammed Sani Musa.
Recall that the ‘Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulation’ bill 2019 popularly called social media bill championed by Senator Mohammed Sani Musa from Niger State.
The social media bill may soon become a law as it passed the second reading on the floor of the Senate on Wednesday, November 20, 2019.
Despite the national outcry against the controversy of the social media bill, the Nigerian Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed during a video interview with Tim Sebastian, a British journalist, in London, Mohammed said there’s no such bill before the Nigerian Senate.
However, when provided with intentional reports about the bill and its draconian provisions, the minister said that the bill was not submitted by the executive.
“Who is the author of this bill, I am not even aware of it. There’s no such bill before the house. I can say that categorically and authoritatively that there’s no such bill before the house.” the minister said.
Mohammed also spoke on the “National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speeches Bill 2019’, which has been described as extreme and as an infringement on the fundamental human rights of Nigerians.
On the hate speech bill, otherwise called the ‘Prohibition of Hate Speech Bill’ sponsored by Sen. Sabi Abdullahi (APC, Deputy Chief Whip), Mohammed said, it is ignorant for anyone to accuse the government of President Muhammadu Buhari of pushing such a bill.
He said, “What is even more shocking here is the ignorance of people. There’s what we call separation of power in major democracies. This particular bill you’re talking about is a bill submitted not by the executive but by the legislative arm of government, so how can you accuse the executive?
“The only thing the president can do is to refuse to assent the law. The bill has not even been passed.”
Asked about cases of human rights violations by the government and armed forces in the country, the minister said, the Federal Government has not violated anybody’s human rights.
He said, “I think there’s has been a lot of misrepresentation, I know for a fact that this administration has been very sensitive to the issue of human rights. I have been a minister for five years, there is no policy of my administration that is deliberately targeted at infringing on anybody’s right.
“Even the military has been very careful to ensure as much as possible that rights are not violated. I have also read reports about people who claimed their rights have been violated simply because they have been arrested by any of the security agencies and they have been asked to go through what I call the due process. But I know as a policy that this government does not violate human rights.”
The minister further said that due to the many cases of human rights abuses by police officers, the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) was disbanded in January 21 and later reconstituted with a warning that SARS operatives must at all time ensure they operate within the confines of the law.
Watch the video of the interview: