The Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters on Friday said it would fix a date for a public hearing on the controversial Social Media Regulation Bill 2019 next week.
This is coming barely four days after the contentious bill passed second reading on the floor of the Senate on Tuesday.
But, the Nigerian Bar Association and human rights lawyers, especially senior advocates of Nigeria, and sociopolitical groups on Friday vowed to storm the public hearing to present their views on the obnoxious bill.
However, the chairman of the Senate committee, Opeyemi Bamidele, in an exclusive interview with one of our correspondents on Friday said notice would be given to the relevant stakeholders because of the interests the bill had generated.
The bill seeks to make provisions for protection from Internet falsehood and manipulations and other related matters.
Popularly known as anti-social media bill, the legislation is being sponsored by the Senator representing Niger East District, Sani Musa.
Bamidele hinted that his panel would hold meetings with the sponsor of the bill, and the leadership of the National Assembly before convening the public hearing.
Only a former governor of Enugu State, Senator Chimaroke Nnamani, spoke against the passage of the bill during the debate on its general principles.
Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah also raised a constitutional point of order to draw the Senate’s attention to the fact that the passage of the bill would be in conflict with certain provisions of the constitution.
However, senators Ibrahim Gobir, Elisha Abbo and Abba Moro, in their various contributions, supported the bill during the debate that lasted about 10 minutes.
The Senate President, Dr Ahmad Lawan, put the passage of the bill for a second reading to a voice vote after confirming that no senator was ready to speak against it.
The majority of the lawmakers in the chamber unanimously voted in support of the bill and it was read the second time.
The senate president then referred the bill to the judiciary and human rights panel for further legislative action.
Bamidele told one of our correspondents that proper arrangement would be made by his panel to collate the views of the stakeholders and represent their views in his report.
He said, “Our committee would meet next week and fix a date for the public hearing.
“Because of the interest that the bill has generated by the public, it would be better that we give all stakeholders sufficient notice.
“We want an adequate representation of all stakeholders, particularly from the civil society.
“We will also, next week, discuss with the sponsor of the bill and the leadership of the National Assembly about the planned public hearing.
“We are going to give sufficient notice, we are not going to rush the process.”
The bill, if signed into law, among others prescribed a three-month jail term and a fine up to N10m for individuals or corporate firms that run afoul of its provisions.