Senator Babafemi Ojudu, representing the Ekiti Central Senatorial District, stressed on Friday that there is â€œa big threat,â€ from what he calls, the â€œestablishment,â€ which would have online media seriously censored.
â€œA bill seeking to censor social media, currently with the National assembly, partly said, in section 13 sub-section 3 that, â€œAnyone who intentionally propagates false information, that could threaten the security of the country, or that is capable of inciting the general public against the government through electronic message (s,) shall be guilty of an offence, and upon conviction, shall be sentenced to seven years imprisonment or 5-million naira (fine).â€ The senator read from the disturbing provisions of the bill currently being discussed among a handful of lawmakers.
â€œThe question is,â€ the senator went on, â€œwho determines what is false information? Is it not going to be the same government, which would rather (have) social, and online media completely stifled with (the) life snuffed out of it?,â€ he asked.
Senator Ojudu spoke at a public lecture entitled, â€œOnline Media â€“ Challenges and Roles In A Developing Democracy.â€ The event was organized by the Gazelle news media, on its 1st Anniversary.
The Senator said that online media has â€œrevolutionized journalism in Nigeria,â€ because of its immediacy, freshness, and the mileage it offers, thus, given it a greater advantage over traditional media, both in print, and broadcast. He further said, â€œthe online media dictates what goes in the print edition for most media houses in advanced countries.â€
He took a swipe at Nigerian media houses, which still has not embraced the online model. The senator also commended the efforts of some online media outfits who continue to keep politicians and public office holders â€˜in check,â€™ as they know that most members of the public are now gaining information that was recently not available to them, and now react faster with the process that may raise questions.
â€œFor me, this is the most important role of online media in a developing democracy such as ours,â€ the senator said. â€œMany public office holders would rather the public remain in the dark, so that they can continue to revel in impunity,â€ he said