Law News
We’ll soon decide on ‘social media bill’ – Reps

The House of Representatives said on Sunday that it would act appropriately on the controversial ‘social media bill’ when it received of the draft of the legislation.

It said since the bill did not originate from the House but in the Senate, the lower chamber would wait until the Senate had passed the bill and referred it to the House before the latter would take a stance on it.

By constitutional requirements, the bill will be sent to the House for concurrence after the Senate has passed it.

Speaking with The PUNCH in Abuja on Sunday, the Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Mr. Abdulrazak Namdas, said the House would decide on what to do with the bill when the Senate would have transmitted it to the House.

Namdas stated that the House had neither seen the bill nor known its content as it had not been captured in its official records.

He added, “The bill you talk about (social media bill) is not our bill; it originated from the Senate.

“The bill is not before us as we speak. The procedure is that the Senate will pass it first and then send it to us for concurrence.

“The Senate has yet to pass it; so it cannot be before the House now. We don’t have it.

“When the Senate passes it and the bill is forwarded to us, that is when we will decide as a House on what to do with the bill.

“Right now, there is no social media bill before us.”

When asked what he thought would be the likely reaction of his colleagues to the bill were it to be before the House, Namdas replied that it would be a futile effort trying to pre-empt the decision of 360 lawmakers.

“Let us wait for the bill to come first. That is the appropriate thing to do now.

“When it reaches the House, members will decide on what to do with it,” he added.

The controversial “Bill for an Act to Prohibit Frivolous Petitions and other Matters Connected therewith” proscribes publishing or airing of petitions against individuals and public office holders.

It also bars posting of such petitions on the social media or through text messages.

Offenders risk a two-year jail term or fines ranging from N2m to N4m.

Part of the bill reads, “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.”

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