Governor Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State has added to his notoriety by asking the state legislature to pass a bill that seeks to punish so-called malicious rumor mongering and public misinformation.
Our correspondent reports that Mr. Dickson has concluded plans to forward a bill to the state legislature stipulating stiff punishment for those who peddle rumors.
The governor himself made the disclosure about the proposed law at a ceremony in Government House, Yenogoa where he inaugurated a committee to tackle “rumor mongering.” Mr. Dickson stated that the move became imperative because of what he alleged to be an ever-increasing rate of rumor mongering and the consequences of rumors on individuals and the state in general.
Governor Dickson claimed that the passage of anti-rumor such legislation was necessary to check the unwholesome practice. He accused propagandists in the state of promoting a recent spate of rumor mongering in the state. He insisted that the propagandists did not mean well for the state and warned that anyone found to have breached the proposed legislation would be punished in order to deter others.
“Going forward, we hope to sponsor a legislation that will provide punishment for false dissemination of information and propaganda, either against the reputation of private individuals or about government or its officials,” said the governor. He added, “Of course, we are all aware that the existing laws provide for offences such as criminal defamation of character and so on. But we are going to come up with a legislation to punish ‘dem say, dem say’ people.”
JD:This is one of the most bizzare laws heard of in 2013,and it doesnt help to know that the proposer of the law,Governor Dickson,employer of the mother of all permsecs,is a lawyer.There are no prizes to be won for anyone who says he has a suspicion that this so called law if passed will become a quasi legitimate weapon for intimidation,for who is to say what constitutes a rumour or not. To ask that the house of assembly resist the temptation to pass it into to law is to exhibit ignorance about not knowing that houses of assemblies in Nigeria are mere appoendages to governors.It will do no good.It is the Bayelsa people that have to rise up to say no to this perceived injustice…but then it was the same Bayelsa people that jubilated when Alams was pardoned after he had looted their money….then i get confused!