The Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP) has urged the National Assembly to scrap its plan to gag social media users now that it is apparent that Nigerians, including President Muhammadu Buhari, are opposed to the ill-conceived legislation.
CNPP conference further demanded that the federal lawmakers apologise to Nigerians for wasting public funds in pursuit of a Social Media Bill meant to shield their dirty dealings from public knowledge.
It further challenged the federal lawmakers to first pass a legislation that makes corruption a capital offence before trying to secure perpetual immunity for themselves using the Social Media Bill as a cover.
In a statement issued Tuesday in Abuja, the Secretary General of CNPP, Chief Willy Ezugwu said revelations since the obnoxious legislation first surfaced have proven that the members of National Assembly are desperate to gag Nigerians who are increasingly taking active interest in governance with the increased access to the internet, mobile technology and social media.
The statement said the true intent of the legislation was exposed given revelations on social media about the shady histories of those driving the bill.
CNPP charged the National Assembly to immediately kill the bill now that President Buhari, in tune with the stand of Nigerians, has openly declared that he will not assent to a law that could engender dictatorship.
It noted that “people worldwide are already grappling with terrorism induced restrictions on liberty and warrantless surveillance such that no country’s nationals deserve to also lose the basic right of freedom of expression.
“What the bill seeks to achieve is not obtainable even in the most repressive countries of the world” it said.
CNPP noted that the National Assembly should rather amend the Evidence Act to cater for the digital reality of the contemporary world instead of trying to criminalise criticisms on social media, which should be a civil suit for anyone who felt offended by any post.
“The Senators and House of Representatives members should first make corruption or stealing of public funds attract death sentence, they should introduce a strict law on asset forfeiture for persons who corruptly and criminally enrich themselves.
“They should make a law that bars persons indicted or convicted for corruption from ever holding public offices, they should legislate to blacklist any politician or political party that engage in electoral fraud. For us in CNPP we have a long shopping list of legislations that can take up the time of the lawmakers instead of wasting time on this nonsense.”
The group threw its weight behind the civil and activist groups protesting the planned law saying that other Nigerians will swell the ranks of the protesters if the National Assembly goes ahead with its anti-people bill.
It warned that the bill was obviously testing the waters ahead of other draconian acts that will reduce Nigeria into a one party dictatorship of a corrupt few.
“The lawmakers have definitely sensed that many Nigerians will use social media for whistle blowing to strengthen the anti-corruption fight and have become desperate to block the new found national direction.
“If these characters are allowed to have their way, they will soon legislate multi-party democracy out of existence” CNPP alerted.