…As Nigerian Army releases cleared 983 Boko Haram suspects***
Nigerians in significant figures on Wednesday besieged the National Assembly to protest and demand for withdrawal of the bills on hate speech and social media, describing it as draconian and self-serving.
Deji Adeyanju, a civil activist who led the protesters to the National Assembly gate described the bills as “obnoxious”.
The protesters carried placards bearing various inscriptions aimed at rejecting the bills.
According to Adeyanju, the bills are completely out of place having no place in a democracy regime.
“These bills have no place in our laws and nation because the Cybercrime Act of 2015 has already aptly captured the provisions of these bills in its entirety.
“We want to draw the attention of the National Assembly to the provision of Section 24 of the Cybercrime Act of 2015.
“That section of the act has expressly captured all the provisions that the social media and hate speech bill ought to cover,” he said.
Receiving the protesters, Sen. Uba Sani (APC-Kaduna Central), said that the contribution of all segments of the society would be taken into consideration during public hearings on the bills.
The controversial bill on hate speech had on Nov. 12, passed first reading in the upper chamber.
The bill sponsored by the Deputy Chief Whip of the Senate, Sen. Sabi Abdullahi, while the Bill for an Act to Make Provisions for the Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulation had passed second reading in the Senate sponsored by Sen. Sani Musa (APC-Niger East).
In the mean time, the Nigerian Army on Wednesday released 983 suspects cleared of links with Boko Haram insurgents.
Maj.-Gen. Olusegun Adeniyi, the theater Commander, Operation Lafiya Dole (OPLD), made the disclosure in Maiduguri at the formal handing over of the suspects to the Borno Government.
Adeniyi disclosed that the suspects comprised of 978 males and five females.
He said that the affected persons were detained at a military facility over suspected links with the insurgents.
Adeniyi explained that the suspects were cleared by the Joint Investigative Panel set up by the authorities.
The commander added that the suspects were cleared of any links with insurgents and certified fit for reintegration with their families and society.
“The release of the suspects marked a milestone in the Operation Lafiya Dole to defeat insurgency and restore peace to the region.
“The Federal Government implemented the Operation Safe Corridor to encourage insurgents to surrender for rehabilitation and integration into the society.
“I call on the insurgents to surrender to enable them benefit from opportunities of the programme.
“Their aim for a caliphate will not be actualised, I call on the insurgents to surrender.
“Let Shekau and Albarnawi to die alone, they are defeated and you should not die with them,” Adeniyi said.
Adeniyi who commended the Borno Government for its support to the military, advocated for skill training programme to enable them to learn trades and engage in productive activities.
Gov. Babagana Zulum of Borno commended the gesture, adding that the event was significant in paving the way to end insurgency and the beginning of peace in the state.
Zulum called on the people to accept the released suspects, stressing that they were proved to be free and innocent following investigations conducted by the investigative committee.
He called on the military to adopt proactive measures to release innocent persons in its facilities in accordance with the laws.
Zulum said that the suspects would be transferred to the Borno Rehabilitation Center, Bulumkutu, before reintegration with their families and society.
The governor added that the state government would provide skill training and empowerment support to enable them to engage in productive activities.
Zulum commended the military and other security agencies for their sacrifices and contributions to the counter insurgency campaign and peace building process in the state.
Also speaking, Ahmed Jidda, one of the released suspects, thanked God for regaining his freedom.
Jidda, who hails from Adamawa, said he was detained for about three years at the military facility.
He noted that the military authority had adopted proactive measures to take care of their need and improvement of the wellbeing of the inmates.
“We are fed; sheltered and clothed. Nobody abused or maltreated us at the centre,” he said.
Jidda commended the committee which established their innocence, adding that he was happy to be reunited with his family.