Ukaegbu Ukaegbu, (NIGERIA MOMENT).
Many Nigerian social media users know that Sahara Reporters sometimes publishes a lot of blatant lies and blackmails, but some people were comfortable with that when these lies and blackmails were against the former President Goodluck Jonathan and other government officials who worked for him.
We all know that these lies and blackmails ended up bringing All Progressive Congress (APC) to power and all the APC elected officials benefited from them including Senator Dino Melaye (APC, Kogi State). In fact, Senator Dino praised Sahara Reporters publicly at that time.
It is also well known that when there was power struggle at the NASS just after APC got the control of both houses, the faction headed by the incumbent Senate President Saraki won the Tinubu faction (APC Establishment group). Thereafter, Sahara Reporters turned against the new NASS leadership with alleged blackmail publications against them. In that case, both Saraki and Dino got a taste of their own medicine given to them by Sahara Reporters.
We also know that President Buhari has a history of clamping down on Free Speech and Freedom of the Press. For example, Buhari enacted the notorious Degree 4, (1984) when he was the military Head of State. Coupled with Buhari’s vindictive nature and now this effort by Saraki and Dino to get back at Sahara Reporters and those Dino Melaye called “others” in Senate floor, they collaborated to push an anti-social media bill officially sponsored by another Senator, called Ibn Na’Alla.
Should this kind of bill becomes law, it would only succeed in handing the government another tool to witch hunt their perceived enemies and opposition who use the social media and other Internet platforms to express their views and rally support for their cause.
Nigerians are too familiar with selective justice system which is the hallmark of the Buhari administration. That means that those who lie and blackmail using social media to support the government will not be prosecuted, while those who alleged do the same in opposition of the government would be targeted for prosecution.
Therefore, all lovers of democracy and supporters of freedom of expression must stand to be counted by rejecting this bill irrespective of the guise it is presented to the public.
Personally, I do not support Sahara Reporters because I hate injustice no matter who perpetrated it. Secondly, I do not support the effort being made by Senator Dino Melaye and Senate President Burkola Saraki because I hate hypocrisy. My position about them is that since they were comfortable with Sahara Reporters’ so called blackmail when it was targeted at someone else, then they should equally be comfortable with themselves being the target of the same kind of blackmail.
Finally, there are laws in the Nigeria Criminal Code which deal with false publication in media. More so, there are laws which deal with libel, slander, all forms of defamation and character assassination, etc., Therefore, those who feel that crimes have been committed by social media users should feel free to use those laws. Those who feel hurt should also seek legal redress using existing civil laws. When in doubt, ask your lawyer.
It is rather shameful that some so called lawmakers don’t even know the laws in the books and yet the pose as legislators.