Online Publishers Association of Nigeria (OPA Nigeria) has condemned the “Bill for an Act to Prohibit Frivolous Petitions and Other Matters Connected Therewith” which passed its 2nd reading at the Senate recently.
A statement signed by the association’s president, Olufemi Awoyemi described the move as ‘pure idleness, and an abandonment of the electoral mandate to focus on laws for good governance to deliver increased welfare for the people.’
The statement read in part; “The planned action by the Senator Bukola Saraki-led Senate seeks to negate Chapter IV section 39 of the Nigerian Constitution which provides that ‘Every person shall be entitled to freedom of expression, including freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information without interference.”
The association in the public statement titled; ‘frivolous petition bills’ charged the senate to work on the legal framework and ethics of practice rather than lay a siege on press freedom.
“The relationship between government and new media may be complex, but it may well be the case that majority of the people expect government to control offensive or dangerous media and communications, whether old or new; but not to shield dubious, corrupt and fraudulent conduct by public officials.”
“Therefore, instead of seeing censorship as an untoward governmental intrusion into a domain of legitimate private choice, we believe a more constructive engagement with key stakeholders can elevate the subject to the domain of public interest and help guide an ill-informed Senate towards more enlightened direction.”
“Finally, in pushing ahead with this bill, the Nigerian Senate has only succeeded in representing itself as a ‘Threat’ to Democracy. This proposed bill must therefore be thrown out in its entirety as is.”
The ‘Bill for an Act to Prohibit Frivolous Petitions and Other Matters Connected Therewith ‘which was sponsored by Deputy Senate Leader; Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah has been widely criticized by many Nigerians in the past week.