President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday assured Nigerians that he would not assent to any legislation that is inconsistent with the nation’s constitution.
According to a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, the President said this in his reaction to the public outcry currently trailing the Social Media Bill being debated in the Senate.
Shehu quoted the President as restating his administration’s commitment to the protection of free speech in keeping with democratic tradition.
He said since Buhari had sworn to defend the constitution of Nigeria, he would not lend his hand to anything that was inconsistent with the constitution.
He said the President was fully aware of the public reservations about the proposed legislation, but assured Nigerians that ‘’there is no cause for alarm, because the Senate is a democratic Senate. The President won’t assent to any legislation that may be inconsistent with the constitution of Nigeria.”
The presidential spokesman however added that Buhari was not against lawful regulation that was done in consonance with the law.
“But he (the President) is not averse to lawful regulation, so long as that is done within the ambit of the constitution which he swore to uphold,” he added.
Shehu further quoted Buhari as saying that free speech was central to democratic societies anywhere in the world and that without free speech, elected representatives would not be able to gauge public feelings and moods about governance issues.
“As a key component of democratic principles, the President acknowledged that people in democratic societies are so emotionally attached to free speech that they would defend it with all their might,” he added.