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JUST IN: Senate Divided Over Social Media Bill

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Divergent arguments were raised on Wednesday at the Nigerian Senate’s plenary over the passage of bill to protect the social media from peddling fake news.

The bill for an Act to make provisions for the Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulations Bill, 2019 sponsored by Senator Mohammed Sani Musa, representing Niger East Senatorial District was re-read at plenary on Wednesday.

In defence of the bill, Senator Elisha Abbo expressed fear over the growth of fake news in Nigeria which, according to him, may destroy the nation if unchecked.

“I want to commend Distinguished Senator Musa for sponsoring this Bill. The issue of fake news in this country, if it’s not regulated is a cancer waiting to consume all of us.

“Even conventional media that are regulated are suffering from falsehood”, he mentioned.

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Senator Abba Moro, equally threw weight behind the bill, describing it straightforward laced with good intentions.

He was quoted saying thus:

“I rise to support this Bill because its a straightforward Bill with good intentions. Some of us in one way or the other have been victims of fake news. I rise to support this bill as it will protect the society.”

“Today we know that America has risen up against fake news as it has had very terrible consequences in America. Fake news is dangerous, therefore Mr. President, we must rise to the challenge”, Senator Moro added.

Senator Chimaroke Nnamani, however, rejected the bill on the ground that it abuses the freedom of speech entrenched in the Nigerian 1999 constitution.

“I have great respect for the sponsor of this Bill. In person, I not only oppose it in totality, I condemn this Bill”, the lawmaker strongly asserted.

He further drew the attention of the National Assembly to the CyberCrime Act which makes provisions against such internet abuse.

“Based on our constitution that guarantees freedom of speech, there is a cybercrime act that deals with this,” Senator Nnamani established.

Meanwhile, Senate President Ahmad Lawan referred the bill to the committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters to report within four weeks, after passing its reading for the second time.

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Inside Nigeria

Nigeria Has Global Highest HIV-Infected Babies — Health Minister

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The Minister of State for Health, Senator Adeleke Mamora, has said that Nigeria has the highest number of babies infected with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus, adding that the Federal Government would therefore sustain HIV prevention and treatment activities nationwide.

The minister noted that the government would commit “sufficient resources to both HIV prevention and treatment in order to stay on track to end the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome by 2030.

Mamora stated these in Abuja on Thursday at the launching of the Faith-based Action for Scaling up of Testing and Treatment for Epidemic Response project in Nigeria.

The project is sponsored by the Catholic Relief Services and the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.

The minister said, “Over the years, the government has put in place several response mechanisms towards reducing the burden of HIV and AIDS in the country, as evidenced by the reduction in the HIV prevalence from the 3.1 per cent to 1.4 in the last survey.

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“It has been discovered that majority of children infected with the HIV are living in sub-Saharan Africa with Nigeria having more HIV infected babies than anywhere else in the world. HIV prevention and treatment activities must therefore be sustained and the momentum increased if the country and the world at large are to stay on track to end AIDS by 2030.

“This launch of the Catholic Relief Services’ FASTER project is at the right time to bridge the identified gaps, especially in pediatric HIV diagnosis and treatment. The six priority actions of the project are as follows; streamline regulatory approval, integrate service delivery, expand diagnostic platforms, evaluate and expand on novel HIV testing approaches, implement validated HIV risk screening checklist and optimise paediatric Anti-Retroviral Therapy.”

The project director in Nigeria, Dr Emeka Anoje, said the programme being implemented in the seven states of Rivers, Benue, Delta, Enugu, Imo, Nasarawa and the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja.

“The project is designed to accelerate progress in pediatric HIV diagnosis and treatment in countries that have high unmet need for child and adolescent antiretroviral therapy. These countries include Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia,” Anoje added.

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Inside Nigeria

FG Suspends Turkish Airlines

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The Nigerian government has suspended the operations of Turkish Airlines in the country due to the airline’s perceived poor treatment of passengers.

Nigeria’s Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) director-general Abdullahi Sidi in a letter said the suspension might continue “if no remedial action is carried out by the airline.”

Sidi expressed displeasure on frequent cases of the airline leaving passengers en route into Nigeria behind despite having checked-in their luggage.

“This issue had made passengers carry out several mob actions at our airport and it was a great threat to our airport facilities,” Sidi said.

Sidi insisted that the suspension will continue until the airline is willing to operate with the size of aircraft that can transport all passengers with their baggage.

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The NCAA boss disclosed that the complaints against Turkish Airlines have been ongoing for two weeks.

He said it was so bad that most recent Turkish Airlines’ flights arrived in Nigeria without more than 85 per cent of passengers’ baggage on board.

Sidi said a series of meetings had been held by the authority and the airline but did not yield results.

“The NCAA is therefore left with no option than to direct Turkish Airlines to suspend its operations into Nigeria until such a time when the airline is ready to operate with the right size of aircraft that can transport all passengers with their baggage at the same time.”

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Inside Nigeria

Court Orders Arrest Of Ex-Petroleum Minister, Diezani Alison-Maduke

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A high court in Adamawa has ordered the arrest of Diezani Alison-Madueke, former minister of petroleum resources, for allegedly giving a bribe of N362 million to INEC officials to influence the outcome of the 2015 presidential election.

Nathan Musa, the judge, gave this order on Thursday while delivering judgement against Ibrahim Umar and Sahabo Hamman, two staff of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) who received the bribe from Alison-Madueke.

The judge directed Mohammed Adamu, inspector-general of police (IGP), to liaise with the International Police Organisation (INTERPOL) to ensure that the former petroleum minister is arrested.

In a statement, Wilson Uwujaren, spokesperson of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), said the former minister and three others were charged “for allegedly deploying over N362million derived from a $115m slush fund to influence the outcome of the 2015 presidential elections in favour of the candidate of the then ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)”.

Count two of the charge read: “That you, Ibrahim Mohammed Umar, Sahabo Iya Hamman and Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke (now at large) sometime between March and May 2015 in Yola, Adamawa state, within the jurisdiction of this honourable court, while being a public officer working with Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and retired public servant and former minister of petroleum resources (now at large) and in capacities, did corruptly procure monetary benefit of three hundred and sixty-two million naira, (N362,000,000.00) in favour of public officers and staff working with Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) of Adamawa State, contrary to and punishable under Section 9 (1) (a) & (b) of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Act, 2000.”

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Alison-Madueke, who fled Nigeria shortly after she left office in 2015, has been named in several corruption cases pending in different courts in the country.

Some of these cases have been stalled owing to her absence.

The EFCC said it is working at extraditing the former minister from the United Kingdom.

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