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Lai Mohammed, Nigeria's Information Minister

FG begins processes for social media sanitisation

The Federal Government on Tuesday says it has commenced the process of injecting sanity into the Social Media space to prevent it from setting the nation on fire.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed disclosed this in an interview with newsmen 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 noted that the government had the responsibility to keep the country together, therefore, social media would not be left alone to destabilise the nation.

He said the government welcomed the debate that had followed the decision and announcement to sanitise 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 the 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 sanitise 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 one 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.

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.

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