The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) says the planned regulation of online media is an attempt by the government to gag Nigerians.
Lai Mohammed, minister of information, announced that online news platforms will soon be regulated when he inaugurated a seven-man committee set up to implement reforms in the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) last Thursday.
Mohammed said the reforms that will be implemented by the committee are recommendations approved by the president.
But reacting in a statement issued by Kola Ologbondiyan, PDP spokesman, the party accused Buhari and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) of attempting to “further gag the media, subjugate Nigerians and curtail their constitutionally guaranteed freedom of expression”.
The party described the planned action as “completely obnoxious, anti-democratic and a direct violation of statutory rules governing media practice and freedom of expression in Nigeria”.
The PDP also rejected the declaration of political comments as “Class A” offence, saying that such is designed to exterminate the rights of citizens to dissenting public opinion, emasculate the opposition and foist a dictatorship and one-party system on the nation.
“Our party alerts that such moves amount to an attempt to amend our constitution to take away the rights of citizens and undermine our democratic institutions; a development that has the capacity to destabilize our dear nation,” the statement read.
“The PDP invites Nigerians to note that this dictatorial pathway which the Buhari Presidency seeks to impose if allowed, will herald the gradual emasculation of freedom of expression, repression of free press, infringements on the rights of citizens and foisting of siege mentality on the people.
“Nigerians are already apprehensive that the directive is geared towards clearing the ground for the introduction of certain harsh policies in our country.
“Our constitution has made enough provisions to guide media practice as well as the exercise of freedom of expression. The foisting of unconstitutional and suppressive regulations is not acceptable under any guise.”
The PDP asked members of the national assembly to reject the presidential directive in the interest of the nation.
It also asked Buhari and his advisers not to “derail the nation with such undemocratic policies”.