Who’s counting? For the umpteenth time, senate president, Bukola Saraki, said on Monday that there is no Bill before the Senate that is aimed at gagging or stifling the media.
Let’s all agree right now to yawn the next time he makes this claim. Why? Because there is such a bill before the Senate. It is called the Frivolous Petition Bill, it has passed second reading in the senate and it is being sponsored by the deputy majority leader, Bala Ibn Na’allah, who is unrepentant and insists that he did the right thing by sponsoring the retrogressive bill.
While speaking as chairman of a sensitization meeting on the implementation of Guidelines on Gender Based Violence and Young Persons in Nigeria, organized by the Women Arise for Change Initiative in Abuja, Saraki said that some people are misrepresenting the bill and attacking the senate.
The senate president said that any area that Nigerians find objectionable in the Frivolous Petition Bill will be removed when it is being considered clause by clause by the Senate.
“Finally, I want to throw more light on the Frivolous Petition Bill. There is a lot of misrepresentation which has led to attacks on the Senate with some wondering whether we want to gag the press. We don’t have any anti-Social Media Bill before us. What we have is the Frivolous Petition Bill which concerns cases of writing and submission of petitions,” Saraki said.
“Unfortunately there is a Section 4 of the bill which many people are not comfortable with. This bill is a private member bill not a Leadership bill. But I have since met with the President Of Online Media Owners who agree there’s need for further self regulation. When we are considering the bill line by line, we will remove any area that people find objectionable because this is a Senate that is for the people and will not make any anti-people law,” he said.
Good. So what Saraki and senators need to do is get to work and expunge that section 4. Until then, there is an anti-social media bill in the senate. The official title of the bill is Frivolous Petition Bill. It is sponsored by Sen. Bala Na’allah. No matter how many times Saraki says such a bill does not exist it won’t change the fact until such a bill no longer actually exists. This is pretty straightforward.