Edikan Uko takes on the plot to introduce a bill censoring social media users in Nigeria and says that it is one more step in the plot to Islamize Nigeria by the government of Muhammadu Buhari.
In Muslim countries, where Sharia is the law, citizens are gagged and any criticism of the government of the country’s leader is termed an “insult” against the leader attracts jail time, flogging, and in some cases a death sentence.
This is the premise behind the newest bill being pushed through the Nigerian Senate. It is written with a ‘Sharia’ mindset and is designed to make Nigeria like other Muslim countries in the world. Countries like Saudi Arabia where bloggers are jailed as long as 10 years and flogged 1,000 times for daring to suggest changes to the repressive laws in the country. Or a country like Iran, where journalists are sometimes sentenced to death for criticizing the government. Or the United Arab Emirates where citizens are jailed for denouncing the illegal arrest of political activists on Twitter. Their crime? ‘Insulting’ the state’s security service. These are countries consistently listed at the bottom of the World Press Freedom Index presented by Reporters Without Borders.
The controversial bill is aimed at gagging Nigerian citizens and threatening them with a heavy fine or a two-years imprisonment, or both, if they express themselves freely and ‘make false statements’ in the process.
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The bill, authored by Senator Ibn Na’Allah (Kebbi), of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has passed its second reading on the floor of the Nigerian Senate. It is undoubtedly is one more step towards Islamizing Nigeria under President Muhammadu Buhari. Not only does it criminalise journalism, blogging, and social media use, it also seeks to intimidate the opposition to silence in the face of tyranny by Buhari and his cohorts.
Free speech, press freedom, and human rights are considered Western concepts. The Islamic world rejects these basic tenets of universal human rights. Nigeria is a secular state, our Constitution guarantees individual freedoms and a free press. Nigeria is a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This Bill, and what is stands for, is alien to a free and democratic society and is contrary to Nigeria’s constitution.
The APC led Senate, championed by the deputy majority leader, Senator Na’Allah is hiding under the cover of the sentiment that ‘people use social media to lie’ to hoodwink Christians in the Senate to support an Islamization Bill. They forget that social media, just like any other media platform, is also used to tell the truth. They want to be able to bundle anybody who speaks against Buhari and his government into jail under the cover of this unconstitutional bill.
Curiously the wording of the bill mirror those of General Mohammed Buhari’s infamous Decree 4 during his brutal military reign of 1984.
We have information that broad daylight looting is on-going in the Buhari government. Government money, in foreign currency is being smuggled out of the country on a daily bases by top officials of the government under the cover of official foreign trips.
These economic crimes against the citizens of the country are reminiscent of the despotic regime of the late General Sani Abacha. We are reminded that Buhari was a top official in that government.
Buhari and his minions want to create an atmosphere of fear and dread in Nigeria. They don’t want Nigerians to report the truth about what their government is up to.
Simply Put: What don’t Buhari and the APC want Nigerians to know?
This bill must be stopped.
Edikan Uko is a business strategist. She tweets from @EdikanUko.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.