A former British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) Senior Producer, Kadaria Ahmed, on Monday said that the Social Media Bill in the National Assembly was a threat to democracy and journalism.
Ahmed said on the sidelines of the 2019 Future Awards in Lagos that the bill would undermine the freedom of speech as entrenched in the constitution and also gag the press.
The Social Media bill tagged “Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulations Bill 2019 is sponsored by Sen. Mohammed Musa of All Peoples Congress (APC) representing Niger East Senatorial District.
The originator of the bill, Musa said that the Social Media bill was aimed at guiding the users and not the media practioners in Nigeria.
Ahmed, who moderated the town hall meeting for presidential candidates and their vice during the February 2019 general elections, said that the body of journalists would resist the bill.
“The Social Media Bill is a threat to journalism and democracy because what they claim that the bill wants to guard against is hate speech and fake news which has been taken care of.
“Other laws have taken care of that, we know that fake news and hate speech pose a serious threat to us as journalists, we don’t want it, because it undermines our work.
“However, what we are saying is that there are enough laws that attend to and regulate such which can be applied which can solve the problem.
“We have Cyber Crime Law and also a law against defamation of character which is libel, we have journalists that have faced such laws before, so we don’t need another law,” she said.
Ahmed said that journalism and activism were two Siamese twins with the way it operates as the conscience of the society, hence it should not be allowed to be gagged.
“I think this notion that there is a separation between journalism and activism is wrong, because the process of giving out information to people to make informed decision is activism.
“Journalism underpins democracy and without a free press, we cant have a democracy and so, anything that threatens journalism is a threat to all, so it is not the question of activism.
“It is a question of survival because anything we do is dependent on our ability to inform people without anybody trying to lock us up or shut us down.
“This social media bill present a danger to freedom of expression, something that is guaranteed in our constitution. This is not a one person’s fight but a collective fight by the body of journalists.
“We recognised that it is important that we protect our rights to report without fear that we will be hounded or harassed, we will do everything to defend our rights,” she said. (NAN)