By Segun Odeleye
Following the criticism which greeted the inclusion of jail term for social media users who post information that threatens national security, the Senate on Tuesday agreed to delete the contentious clause.
The problematic section 13 (3) of the draft bill stipulates that “Any person, 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, shall be guilty of an offence and upon conviction, shall be sentenced to seven years imprisonment, or a fine of N5m or both”
However following the controversy which the section generated and the negative publicity it attracted forbthe senate, the bill’s sponsor, Senator Adegbenga Kaka, in company with the Chairman, Senate Committee on Information, Media and Public Affairs, Senator Eyinnaya Abaribe, announced to journalists on Tuesday that the offending clause had been deleted from the bill.
Kaka said, “The bill that I presented to the Senate, precisely on July 28, 2011, was a bill to regulate the electronic transfer of funds and after presentation, by the time we got to the second reading, there was a remark that a similar bill was tabled before the Sixth Senate by Senator Ayo Arise.
“I was then asked to go and rework my own and marry it with that of Senator Arise. In the course of doing it, a bill for an act for the prohibition of all electronic transfer, all electronic transaction fraud and electronic transfer transactions in Nigeria and other related matters was presented.
“It passed through the first reading, and the second reading and last week, there was a public hearing by the joint committee on judiciary and narcotics.
“Following this, the social media practitioners took exceptions to the provisions of section 13 (3) and based on that, I did promise that as a person, the bill as it is presently, is no longer my property, it is that of the Senate and as a result, I will go and make consultations, do critical examination of the clause, vis a vis section 123 of the constitution.
“After this, it is resolved that section 13 (3) of the proposed bill could be abused at any point in time and could be misinterpreted.
“As a result, I have the permission of the Senate leadership to announce to the world that that the section 13 (3) shall be deleted.”