The Federal Government on Friday denied sponsoring bills purportedly meant to gag the press and regulate social media.
Recall that the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, had urged the House of Representatives to include regulation of Twitter in the National Broadcasting Commission Act.
The Minister made the call at the public hearing on a bill to amend the NBC Act 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, in an interview with newsmen in Lagos, Mohammed 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 berating me on these bills have been doing so on a false premise 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 gag the press.
“It baffles me that those who rushed to the media to slam the government didn’t even try to verify the facts,’’ he said
The minister further stated that the National Assembly member who sponsored the bills had done nothing wrong. He said the legislator was only doing what he was elected to do.
“I insist that the bills were not sponsored by the Federal 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,’’ he added.