The Nigerian Government on Friday, June 25, 2021, has denied sponsoring bills purportedly meant to restrain the press and regulate social media in the country.
It would be recalled that the country’s Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, had compelled the House Of Representatives to include the regulation of Twitter in the National Broadcasting Commission Act, NBC Act.
Mohammed made the call at the public hearing on a bill to amend the NBC Act which was organized by the House Committee on Information.
“I will want to add that specifically, internet broadcasting and all online media should be included in this because we have a responsibility to monitor content — including Twitter,” he said.
However, Mohammed in an interview with newsmen in Lagos said the bills concerning the Nigerian Press Council and the National Broadcasting Commission were private member bills sponsored by a lawmaker in the National Assembly.
First, let me say how disappointed I am that those who have been criticizing me on these bills have been doing so on a false assumption that the Federal Government had sponsored bills to stifle the press.
”This is a classic case of misinformation because the Federal Government did not sponsor any bill to restrain the press.
“It baffles me that those who rushed to the media to criticize the government didn’t even try to verify the facts,’’ he said.
The minister further asserted that the National Assembly members who sponsored the bills had done nothing wrong. He said the legislators were only doing what they were elected to do.
“I insist that the bills were not sponsored by the Nigerian Government.
“I was invited, as the Minister of Information and Culture, to make my contributions, just like many other stakeholders at the public hearing.
“It was an opportunity for stakeholders to make their input into the bills.
”I attended and made my contributions,’’ Mohammed added.