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Social Media Bill Proposes 3-Month Jail For Offensive Users

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Sani Musa

The Senator representing Niger East Senatorial District, Sani Musa, has said that his bill on social media was aimed at guiding the users and not to gag media practitioners in Nigeria.

The bill titled, “Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulation Bill 2019, passed first reading on the floor of the Senate on Tuesday.

Justifying his reasons for reintroducing the bill in an interview with journalists, Musa said it was aimed at ensuring sanity on social media.

He said individuals who post false information on the internet, when found guilty would be asked to pay a fine of N150, 000 or they are sentenced to three months imprisonment.

The Senator added that any corporate organisation that refused to block false information after the regulating agency had alerted it would be asked to pay a fine ranging from N5m to N10m.

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He also said telecommunications firms that allow their network to be used to disseminate false information, could risk yet-to-determined sanctions.

He said, “Nigeria is not only for government but for every Nigerian and we must all work towards moving this country to where it needs to be.

“You can see America and other advanced countries today, they have been for hundreds of years. They have their period of turmoil and challenges like ours but they have been able to pass through.

“How did they do it? There were legislations, and the rule of law because people adhere to laws.

“For a country like Nigeria today and with the advent of social media, there is every reason for a country to as much as possible focus it’s attention to see how this new media can be tolerated.”

He said it was possible for individuals to stay in a room and post a piece of false information just to attack someone.

The Senator said, “I have a passion for IT and I know what it takes to disseminate your information, it is at the speed of light.

“Some journalists will look at this legislation as if we are trying to bring a law that will gag the social media or the right to free press.

“It is a legislation that will guide how we can tolerate our activities on social media.

“False information has been disseminated so many times and they have caused so much chaos in different parts of the world.

“There are so many things that are positive within social media. For instance, a young lady that is getting married and wants the world to know could do so through social media.

“I felt we need it in this country. If countries like Philippines, Singapore, Italy, Malaysia, Australia, France, Indonesia, Egypt are attempting to control social media to prevent the spread of false information, what stops us from doing it?

“There has never been a time when Nigeria has been very fragile in terms of its unity than this period.

“It (social media bill) is not to stop people from going online to do whatever they feel is legitimate. What is wrong is for you to use the medium to document information that you know is false, just because you want to achieve your desirable interest.

“If you commit an offence of this nature, and by virtue of what you have committed, the law enforcement agencies will take you to the court.

“There will be a court process that will prove that you have done something wrong.

“You can appeal. It will serve as deterrence to others, we should fix certain penalties that when you know you will cough out something, you won’t do it.

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Inside Nigeria

FG Releases N386m To Fight Coronavirus

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The federal government has released N386m to forestall unforeseen outbreak of the deadly COVID-19 virus, hitherto known as coronavirus.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) received a sum of N315m while N71m was released to the port health services division of the ministry for improved surveillance at the ports of entry.

Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Health, Mr. Abdullahi Mashi, disclosed these on Friday during a media parley in Abuja.

According to him: “Intervention requests were made to the Presidency and because of the level of emergency, the Ministry of Finance consented to the request. I can confirm to you that N71m was released to the port health services division of the ministry. Also, NCDC have been given N315m. Another request is still in the pipeline”.

The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, submitted a memo to the Presidency about two weeks ago requesting for N620m to strengthen preparedness and interventions for proactive measures to prevent the importation of the coronavirus virus to the country.
The Minister of State for Health, Dr. Adeleke Mamora, told reporters: “The COVID-19, which is a serious public health emergency of international concern, has a total number of confirmed cases globally of 75,748, with 2,129 deaths.

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“Eight deaths are outside China – three in Japan, one in France, one in Philippines, two in Iran, one in Korea. The case fatality ratio (CFR) is 2.4 percent”.

Concerning the confirmed case of coronavirus in Egypt, the Minister said: “We know that a case was discovered in Egypt, which was the first in Africa and the patient is a foreigner.

“It raised an alarm and we know that coronavirus is known for high index of suspicion, based on travel history when you don’t have case definition apparent in the patient.
“I’m not saying the case in Egypt was false positive or false negative but we will need authorities to give us relevant and information. All we know is that we were told that one case was discovered and was asymptomatic as at the time the test was carried out just based on the travel history. It came out positive then, and then, along the line, it was tested and was negative. I am sure the NCDC will be working to get the accurate information.

“As at now, there hasn’t been any other report or confirmed case in the whole of Africa, and Nigeria in particular, don’t have any case. Clinicians are being trained in the management of cases.

“Nigeria is developing a stockpile of medical supplies to be used in the event of any outbreak. Our capacity for testing in Nigeria has been enhanced as we have three laboratories currently – National Reference Laboratory in Abuja, Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital in Edo state”.

Concerning latest report on Lassa fever, Mamora, said: “Between the 1st of January and 16th of February, we have had 586 confirmed cases and 103 deaths from 26 states.

“Edo state has the highest burden of confirmed cases of Lassa fever at 35 percent, followed by Ondo at 32 percent, and Ebonyi at 6 percent. The case fatality rate (CFR) is 17.6 percent.
“There are five laboratories with capacity to test for Lassa fever within 24 hours’ turnaround time. We encourage our people to maintain good environmental and person hygiene.

“We are also aware of the case of unidentified killer disease in Benue. So far, what we have established is that it is more likely to be due to poisoning as a result of harmful practice of pouring Gamalin into a body of water with the view to killing fish, and people now eat the same fish.

“There is also the issue of the presence of high gathering of lead; so lead poisoning is also suspected as one of the factors in that outbreak in Benue. Also, samples have been taken and are undergoing analysis through NAFDAC and other labs”.

He advised that people should boil water before drinking and stop fetching water from places that have been established to be potential sources of the poisoning.

On reports that chloroquine is the preferred treatment for the COVID-19, a representative of the NCDC, said: “For chloroquine, it is still work in progress as a lot of research is going on.

“In China, they are having preliminary phased clinical trials using chloroquine and hydroxyl-chloroquine. They have enrolled about one hundred patients, and have administered chloroquine to them. It was found that the chloroquine-phosphate was superior to the controlled treatment in inhibiting the interpretation of the pneumonia that the patient had and improving lung imaging.
“By the time they did X-ray, they discovered that those on chloroquine had better lung imaging with findings than those on the controlled therapy, and that there was promotion of the virus negative conversion rate. These are still early findings that needs to be validated with more trials before we can say chloroquine is the treatment of choice. There are other treatment regimens that are being considered”.

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Inside Nigeria

US Exposes Buhari’s Plan To Pay APC Governor $100 Million From Abacha Loot

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A plot by the Buhari-led federal government to pay an APC governor $100 million from the Abacha loot has been uncovered.

The United States Department of Justice says the Federal Government led by the President, Muhammadu Buhari, is blocking attempts to recover Abacha loot traced to Kebbi State Governor, Atiku Bagudu.

The DoJ made the claim in court papers filed before the District Court for the District of Columbia in Washington, Bloomberg reports.

The PUNCH reports that Bagudu, who is a close ally of Buhari and a prominent member of the ruling All Progressives Congress, was indicted by the US Government for helping the late military dictator, Gen. Sani Abacha, to transfer billions of dollars in the mid-90s.

According to documents from the DoJ, Bagudu spent six months in federal detention in Texas while awaiting extradition to the Island of Jersey.

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However, before he was handed over to criminal trial in Jersey, he quickly agreed to return $163m to Nigeria and was released on bond to Nigeria, where he was meant to be prosecuted for money laundering.

However, on returning to Nigeria, he was cleared to contest in three different election cycles – once as a senator and twice as governor – all of which he won and now enjoys immunity.

In a report published by Bloomberg, on Friday, it was stated that the US Department of Justice says the Nigerian government is preventing the US from seizing Bagudu’s alleged loot.

“The DoJ also contends that the Nigerian government is hindering US efforts to recover allegedly laundered money it says it’s traced to Bagudu. Buhari’s administration says a 17-year-old agreement entitles Bagudu to the funds and prevents Nigeria from assisting the US, according to recent filings from the District Court for the District of Columbia in Washington,” the report stated.

According to the report, the disagreement may hamper future cooperation between Nigeria and the US to recover state money moved offshore by Abacha, whom Transparency International estimates may have looted as much as $5bn during his 1993-98 rule.

“A commitment by Nigeria to transfer the funds to Kebbi State Governor Abubakar Bagudu appears to undermine Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari’s pledge to quell rampant graft in Africa’s top oil producer,” the report stated.

Neither Bagudu nor a spokesman for the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN), responded to requests for comment.

A spokesman for Buhari said the settlement and the litigation were matters for Malami.

A spokesman for the DoJ declined to comment.

Successive Nigerian governments have sought to recoup the money looted by Abacha, who died in office, and have so far repatriated more than $2bn with the cooperation of other countries, according to US court filings.

The DoJ said in a February 3 statement that Bagudu, 58, was part of a network controlled by Abacha that “embezzled, misappropriated and extorted billions from the government of Nigeria.”

Bagudu is the chairman of an influential body of governors representing the ruling All Progressives Congress, Buhari’s party.

“Despite the forfeiture action being initiated following a Nigerian state request in 2012, Buhari’s government now says it can’t assist the US because it’s bound by a settlement Bagudu reached with the administration of then-President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2003, according to the court filings,” the report states.

Under the terms of that accord, which was approved by a UK court, Bagudu returned $163m of allegedly laundered money to the Nigerian authorities, which in exchange dropped all outstanding civil and criminal claims against him “stemming from his involvement in government corruption,” according to a December 23 memorandum opinion by District Judge John D. Bates in Washington D.C.

That meant “Nigeria renounced any interest whatsoever” in Bagudu’s trust assets, including those the US is attempting to recover for the West African nation, the opinion stated.

Bagudu was able to return to Nigeria after concluding the settlement and was elected as a senator in 2009. Six years later, he was voted in as Kebbi’s governor in elections that brought Buhari and his party to power.

After Bagudu successfully sued Nigeria for violating the 2003 settlement, Buhari’s regime reached a new agreement with him in October 2018, according to the court filings.

“That would result in the transfer of ownership of the investment portfolios, worth 141m euros ($155m) to the Nigerian state, which would then pay 98.5 million euros to Bagudu and his affiliates, according to Bates’ December 23 opinion. The funds are currently restrained by the UK at the request of the US,” it added.

Nigeria’s government claims the updated 2018 agreement with the Kebbi governor, which requires court approval in the UK, will “curtail and mitigate its looming exposure” from the judgment in Bagudu’s favor.

Buhari’s administration submitted the 2018 deal to the UK court in September to support its application to unfreeze the assets so they can be sent to Nigeria, according to the opinion. The court has yet to make a decision.

Source: The PUNCH

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Inside Nigeria

BREAKING: Boko Haram Hits Yobe

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Suspected Boko Haram insurgents have attacked motorists near Lantaiwa, a community located 70 kilometers north from Damaturu the Yobe state capital and 30 kilometers to Dapchi where 110 schoolgirls were abducted in 2018.

The Acting Assistant Director Army Public Relations, Sector 2 Operation Lafiya Dole, Lieutenant Chinonso Oteh told Channels Television that operatives of the army have been mobilized to the area, however, information on whether passengers have been abducted or not is still sketchy.

The terrorists had last Sunday succeeded in destroying two telecommunication masts in Babbangida the headquarters of Tarmuwa Local Government Council of the State in order to stop the locals from sharing information with the security personnel.

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