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FG begins processes for social media sanitization — Lai Mohammed

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By Sylvanus Okpe

The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has revealed that the Federal Government has commenced the process of injecting sanity into the Social Media space to prevent it from setting the nation on fire.

Mohammed made the disclosure in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Abuja.

“As a matter of fact, we have already put in motion the machinery for this.

“We have written letters to the major stakeholders who would nominate representatives and we are going to sit down together to decide on how best to confront this menace,’’ he said.

The minister reiterated the that the government has a solemn responsibility to keep the country together, maintaining that social media would not be left alone to destabilize the nation.

He said the government welcomed the debate that had followed the decision and announcement to sanitize the social media space and the airwaves.

“We are glad about the criticism because what we set out to achieve is to bring the matter to the front burner of discourse.

“We are not under any illusion that the people will take this hook line and sinker.

“We are, however, glad that there are more people who believed that the social media poses an imminent danger to the unity of Nigeria, especially as they have become merchants of fake news and hate speech,” he said.

The minister noted that those who had opposed the regulation of social media had not denied the fact that the platform was being used by purveyors of fake news and hate speech with grave consequences.

“Their concern largely, which is unfounded is that it might lead to the stifling of the freedom of the press or gaggling the media.

“However, we want to make it clear that it is not our intention to do this.

“The only people who are afraid of the decision to sanitize the social media and the airwaves are the purveyors of hate speech and fake news.

“It must be put on record that Nigeria is not the only country that is doing something about this, Germany, Egypt, Russia, India and the UK are all doing something about regulating the social media platform,’’ he said.

Mohammed expressed concern that the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) and other media professional bodies, that were supposed to support the regulation were kicking against it.

“This is amusing because they should be glad as they are the ones we are protecting.

“The honest truth is that the established, well trained professional journalists do not indulge in fake news and hate speech because they have regulatory bodies already.

“The NUJ has regulatory body and Code of Conduct and they are largely not the one responsible for the dissemination of fake news and hate speech.

“I am, therefore, really surprised that such criticism is coming from them because they are the people we are protecting and they are the ones that will benefit the more from the government action,’’ he said.

The minister reiterated that no amount of criticism and opposition would stop regulation of the social media and the airwaves.

“We heard all kinds of threat, some even went as far as calling for the removal of the minister.

“Let me assure them that the minister is not perturbed by this and we are focused.

“No amount of intimidation, sponsored articles in any form is going to stop us from regulating social media.

“This is not just a menace to the government, many people have committed suicide because their reputation has been destroyed by the social media,’’ he said.

The minister reiterated that the government would neither gag the media nor stifle the freedom of speech in regulating the media platforms.

On the regulation of the media waves, Mohammed said he would receive recommendations on the implementation process in a few days from the committee he recently inaugurated.

He said they had also received a lot of attacks from some critics that the intention was nothing but an attempt to gag the media and stifle free speech.

“Again, our answer to this is simple. Under our watch, hate speech will not become free speech.

“Let me say once again that only those who are purveyors of fake news and hate speech have things to fear from these recommendations,’’ he said.

According to the minister, the regulation of both the social media and the airwaves is in the national interest

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Support our journalism with a contribution of any size

Nigeria's media space is swamped with falsehood, deceit and delusion. Just a handful abides by the truth. TheNigerian is one of the unique platforms helping to shape the global narrative about Nigeria and her citizens across the world. It's quite costly to maintain this brand of journalism, however.

Readers from around the world, like you, make TheNigerian's work possible. We need your support to deliver quality, investigative journalism – and to keep it open for everyone. At a time when factual, honest reporting is critical, your support is essential in protecting our editorial independence. Every contribution, however big or small, is so valuable for our future.

Our brand of professional citizens' journalism requires a contribution from members of the public, patronage and sponsorship to thrive. We rely on this financial support to be able to carry out our numerous obligations of training, running cost, production, printing and general services. We also embark on Corporate Social Responsibilities through educational programs on our TV, newspaper and blogs.

Make a token donation to support us:
Account Name: Patriot and Sage Digital Communication Ltd
Account No: 1015619537
Bank Name: Zenith Bank

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