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Has Buhari the dictator changed his spots?

Buhari history repeating itself

As a military dictator in the early 1980s Muhammadu Buhari brought in Decree No. 4 which held that: “Any person who publishes in any form, whether written or otherwise, any message, rumour, report or statement, being a message, rumour, statement or report which is false in any material particular or which brings or is calculated to bring the Federal Military Government or the Government of a state or public officer to ridicule or disrepute, shall be guilty of an offence under this Decree.

Any station for wireless telegraphy which conveys or transmits any sound or visual message, rumour, report or statement, being a message, rumour, report or statement which is false in any material particular or which brings or is calculated to bring the Federal Government or the Government of a state or a public officer to ridicule or disrepute, shall be guilty of an offence under this Decree.

It shall be an offence under this Decree for a newspaper or wireless telegraphy station in Nigeria to publish or transmit any message, rumour, report or statement which is false in any material particular stating that any public officer has in any manner been engaged in corrupt practices or has in any manner corruptly enriched himself or any other person.”

He justified the decree several years later in this interview with the BBC:

Now, the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), with a bill sponsored by Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah, have come up with a version of the Decree No. 4 for the social media age:

“Where any person through text message, tweets, WhatsApp or through any social media posts any abusive statement knowing same to be false with intent to set the public against any person and group of persons, an institution of government or such other bodies established by law shall be guilty of an offence and upon conviction, shall be liable to an imprisonment for two years or a fine of N2,000,000.00 or both fine and imprisonment.”

The APC promised Nigerians “change” during the (s)elections. But the more things change in the country, the more they stay the same.

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