President Muhammadu Buhari and some members of the House of Representatives, yesterday, clashed over the social media bill, which is seeking to regulate social media in the country.

Buhari, who spoke through his Senior Special Assistant on Media, Shehu Garba, at a media round table organised by House of Representatives Press Corps, said the social media bill was necessary to check abuses associated with the social media, especially fake news. He added that that those who said there is already enough laws to check defamation and libel, are not being sincere, as those laws were enacted long before the advent of social media. He chided the media for creating unnecessary controversy by focusing more on the death penalty for fake news. “You have a responsibility of studying that bill,” he said. “Only a few days ago, the American Ambassador met the sponsor of that bill and at the end, he said Nigerians should have a rethink. It is your duty to rip it open and tell Nigerians what it contained.

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Still talking about what he sees as wrong media focus, he said: “The bill is not all about death penalty or free speech. For example, is there content in that bill that prevents social media harm. See what the British media is doing for example and the social media is being held accountable for what is called social media addiction among children. Can we have a law in this country that can protect children? Can we have a law that will protect women, ethnic minorities and the likes? Can we have a law that call to accountability the activities of the major technology companies providing these services?”

However, Ossai Ossai, a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) lawmaker from Delta State, in his response said the social media bill was unnecessary.  The lawmaker, who noted that the bill amounts to an infringement on the rights of Nigerians, vowed to vote against it should it come before the House. Similarly, another member of the House, Dachung Bagos, said he would equally vote against the social media bill, if it comes up in the Green Chamber.