Transparency and Integrity


FG Mounts Pressure On Reps To Pass Laws Regulating Twitter, Others


House Of Representatives Under Pressure To Make Laws Regulating Social Media, Others In Nigeria.

.... Media Stakeholders Fire Back, Ask Reps To Strip Minister, NBC Of Regulatory Powers. 

The Federal Government Urges the House of Representatives to pass laws regulating internet broadcasting and Social Media including Twitter which is still banned in Nigeria.

The Federal Government also asked the National Broadcasting Commission to regulate prices, rates and tarrifs which according to it was imposed by satellite and cable television service providers in the country.

Alhaji Lai Mohammed Nigeria's Minister for Information and Culture during a public hearing put together by the House of Representatives, made the call for the regulation. In reaction to the Minister, Stakeholders in Media industry present at the public hearing also called on the the representatives to take away powers from the Minister and the NBC to regulate pointing out the method of appointment of the leadership of the NBC and the regulation of the media industry especially in relation to the subscriptions and tarrifs which according to the media stakeholders 'would suppress competition and disallow fair play in the industry.'

The House Committee on Information, National Orientation, Ethics and Values had organized the hearing on five bills.

The bill seeking to amend the NBC Act, however, generated controversy at the hearing.

The legislation is titled, ‘A Bill for an Act to amend the National Broadcasting Act. Cap. N11, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004, to strengthen the Commission and make it more effective to regulate broadcasting in Nigeria, to provide for payment of all monies received by the Commission into the Federation Account in accordance with Section 162 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, and encourage liberal openness and favourable competition in the industry.’

In his presentation, Lai Mohammed criticised some sections of the NBC Act amendment bill.

He said,

“ With due respect, our laws cannot be subservient to International Telecommunication Union treaties. It is true that we are part of the treaty but our laws and Acts cannot be made subservient to any treaty. Treaties are made but our laws will have to protect peculiar situations in our country. So, I will suggest we take another look at this.

“ I want to add here specifically that internet broadcasting and all online media should be included in this because we have responsibility to monitor content, including Twitter.”

Speaking further, Lai Mohammed said, 

“ On the power to grant licence, my submission is that spectrums do not belong to licensees but to the Federal Government and can use it either for broadcasting, telecom or any other thing. The impression is given that those enjoying it today can do so forever. The Federal Government can decide who to give the spectrum.

“ We must be careful not to give spectrum permanently to foreign companies who may decide to do whatever they please with it. It is our hope that when we eventually transition from analogue to digital broadcasting, the spectrums that will be left will now be sold to fund developmental programmes.

“ Saying those enjoying the spectrum now should continue to do so is like taking away the powers of the Federal Government to allocate spectrum.”

The Executive Director, IMSN, Dr. Akin Akingbulu, stated,

“ The inclusion of these categories will be very injurious to media freedom and freedom of expression. They should be removed.”

Earlier while declaring the hearing open, the Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, whose speech was read by the Deputy Majority Leader, Peter Akpatason, said,

“ Each of the bills under consideration seeks to significantly alter the statutory framework of media, advertising and intellectual property regulation in Nigeria.”

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