Festus Keyamo, minister of state for labour and productivity, says there must be penalty for positing false information on social media.
In a series of tweets on Monday, the former human rights activist said activists who oppose the bill seeking to regulate social media should stop blocking people who irritate them on the platforms.
He also said they should apologise to those they have blocked.
“Those so-called overnight Social Media ‘activists’ who oppose the Social Media Bill should first stop blocking those who irritate them with insults, unblock all those they have blocked and apologise to them. You can’t be intolerant and ask others to be. Practice what you preach,” he tweeted.
“Some cannot differentiate the Social Media Bill from the Hate Speech Bill. Whilst no reasonable person will support death sentence for hate speech, you can’t come online to say something totally untrue that can put other lives in danger without some kind of penal consequence
“The real agitation should be for Parliament, in line with S.36(12) of the 1999 Constitution, to clearly define the TYPES of false & insensitive posts that would attract penal consequences, so that govt doesn’t abuse it. But to leave everyone to just post ANYTHING is unacceptable.”
Keyamo said no one should be allowed to post false information in the name of free speech.
“Civil suits on Defamation of character only take care of PERSONAL INSULTS. I don’t subscribe to punishment for that. But you cannot come online to deliberately post false stories, in the guise of ‘freedom of speech’, that can set the nation ablaze without some penal consequences,” the minister said.
Bills seeking to regulate social media and prescribe capital punishment for hate speech, recently introduced in the senate have caused debate among Nigerians.
Many say it is an attempt to gag the media and stifle free speech.