Human Rights Commission condemns move to regulate social media
Peter Bahago, Abuja
The National Human Rights Commission in Nigeria has condemned moves by the National Assembly to pass bills restricting social media in the country.
The Commission also condemned attempts by the National Broadcasting Commission, NBC to impose excessive fines on media houses for activities based on information to the citizens.
Executive Secretary of the Commission, Tony Ojukwu who raised the concern at the eve of this year’s celebration of World Press Freedom Day, extolled the conduct of the Nigerian press for exhibiting a high level of professionalism despite alleged intimidation and harassment by some members of the society.
He said that the recent Legislations and policies of the National Broadcasting Corporation which has been challenged by well-meaning Nigerians should be revisited to avoid human rights infringements while administering such Legislations and policies.
According to a statement by the Deputy Director Public Affairs of the Commission, Fatimah Mohammed Agwai, the theme of this year’s commemoration, “Information for Public Good”, is apt because it reminds both the government and the citizens of the importance of information as a tool for national development, particularly in the current world order where the social media is making a tremendous impact on people’s attitudes and perceptions.
“It is therefore instructive that the media which has remained an agent of socialisation could rightly be deployed to drive government policies and programmes to the grassroots level”, Ojukwu said.
The Executive Secretary reiterated the need to widen the civic space rather than shrinking it noting that the media exists for the public good and by extension, a catalyst for openness and good governance.
Referring to journalists as human rights defenders, the Chief Human Rights Officer used this opportunity to urge the UN and the African Union, AU and other international bodies to persuade their member nations to put stringent legislation in place to curb violence against journalists as well as promote life insurance policies for them in countries where they are not already in place.
“This would ensure that families of any deceased or maimed journalists are given the social security protection that they deserve”, Ojukwu added.
He however called on the Nigerian Union of Journalist, NUJ to put effective modalities in place to get rid of quacks in the system, adding that such quacks practice the profession in a wrong way thereby perpetrating fake news, hate speech, and other unethical conduct which are capable of causing national disunity.