The Federal Government has asked the House of Representatives to make a law that will be able to regulate social and online media in Nigeria.
Stating this is the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed at a public hearing organised by the house committee on information, national orientation, ethics and values on a bill to amend the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) act on Wednesday, 16th June 2021.
It should be noted that section two (b) of the NBC act states that: “(1) The Commission shall have [the] responsibility of: Receiving, processing and considering applications for the establishment, ownership or operation of radio and television stations including (i) cable television services, direct satellite broadcast and any other medium of broadcasting.”
However, Mohammed have asked lawmakers to amend the NBC act to empower the agency to regulate social and online media and other broadcasting channel.
The minister said: “I want to add here specifically that internet broadcasting and all online media should be included in this because we have a responsibility to monitor contents, including Twitter.”
However, at the public hearing, media stakeholders opposed the move and asked the house panel to make the NBC more independent of the minister of information.
The executive director of the Institute for Media and Society, Akin Akingbulu stated that the commission should not receive directives from the minister.
“The power to give directives to the commission, vested in the minister of information in section six should be removed and replaced with powers which include policy formulation for the broadcasting sector,” he said.
He added that the minister should be involved in the “negotiation of international agreements, notifying the commission of the policy direction of government and ensuring that the independence of the commission is protected at all times.”
In their joint submission, the International Press Centre (IPC) and the Centre for Media Law and Advocacy said the appointment of the NBC board should be subject to the confirmation of the national assembly.
“The conduct of the NBC has over time presented it as an extension of the minister of information and culture which rarely acts independently,” they said.