Senate shelves controversial law indefinitely

The decision was based on the report of the committee on Judiciary, Human Rights, and Legal Matters which recommended the withdrawal of the bill.

Senate President, Bukola Saraki (left) and Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara.

Media reports reveal that the Nigerian Senate, last week, withdrew the controversial Frivolous Petitions Bill 2015, also known as the anti-social media bill, as well as suspending further consideration of it.

According to an Innovation Village report, the decision was based on the report of the committee on Judiciary, Human Rights, and Legal Matters which recommended the withdrawal of the bill.

The committee stated that the passage of the bill in the form it was presented would further hinder the anti-corruption drive that is the main focus of the present administration.

Committee chairman, Senator David Umaru, said most of the provisions of the bill had already been covered by other extant laws of the federation and should not be duplicated.

“Some of our extant Acts, such as the Penal Code, the Criminal Code, the Cybercrime Act, etc. have sufficient provisions to address the issues that the Frivolous Petitions (Prohibition, etc) Bill 2015, seeks to address.

“Even though the Bill has a tacit implication of discouraging frivolous and malicious petitions, its passage in this current form will do more harm than good.

“This Bill will conflict with some provisions in some of our extant Acts, which make provisions for whistle blowers protection; passing this bill will expose them to more dangers and threats to life.

“What we need to do now as legislators is to amend and update some of our extant Acts to accommodate emerging global trends rather than having a new law,” said Umaru.

The senator also added that some of the forms of communication such as text messages, tweets, and WhatsApp, which the bill sought to police were already covered by the Nigerian Communications Act of 2003.

Nigerians, especially the youths, had reacted with infuriation when the bill was first passed for first reading on November 24, 2015 and passed for second reading on December 2, 2015.

Media organisations  and civil societies also protested vehemently against the bill, demanding that the Senate dismissed it immediately.

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