Decree No. 4,1984: Promulgated by Major-General Mohammadu Buhari

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Drafted on March 29,1984, Decree No. 4 was the most dreaded, most repressive and the last press law enacted in Nigeria. It was promulgated during the military regime of Major General Buhari which did not take kindly to press criticisms.

The law was drafted to punish authors of false statements and reports that exposed the Buhari administration and or its officials to ridicule or contempt.

Section 1, sub-sections (i), (ii) and (iii) of the law - the most formidable section - provided 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.

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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 enriched himself or any other person.
The law also conferred on the Head of State the power to ban a newspaper and to revoke the license of a wireless telegraph station in any part of the federation.

Fast forwarding to Buhari's civilian administration, there is a ₦5 million fine to what the government considers as false statements and reports, which most Nigerians think is a stamp on their civil rights.

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