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File: Mr Lai Mohammed addresses a press conference in Abuja on December 10, 2018.

 

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has disclosed that a committee has been set up to implement the recommendations approved by President Muhammadu Buhari on tackling hate speech and fake news.

Mr. Mohammed who disclosed this during a meeting with online publishers in Lagos on Sunday said that hate speech and fake news are the ‘Siamese twins
of evil’, and no responsible government will sit by and allow such to rule the airwaves.

He called on online publishers to support the national campaign and fight the menace which he claimed, is getting worse.

“Let me be clear: we didn’t think the issue will suddenly disappear, but we also didn’t think it will get worse, which is what it is now. In fact, it remains a clear and imminent danger to the polity.

“No responsible government will sit by and allow fake news and hate speech to rule the airwaves, because of the capacity of this menace to exploit our national fault lines to set us against each other and trigger a national conflagration. That is why we will continue to evolve ways to tackle fake news and hate speech until we banish both.”

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Mr. Mohammed gave the highlights of the approved recommendations which includes; Independence of the NBC from political interference in the
exercise of its regulatory powers, Upward review of fines from N500,000 to N5,000,000 for breaches relating to hate speeches.

He added that the committee has been tasked to end the issue of monopoly in the broadcast industry, and no amount of coordinated attack will whittle down the implementation of the recommendations.

“Let me be straight: No amount of attacks sponsored or otherwise will stop the implementation of the approved recommendations. And only non-patriots and anarchists will kick against measures aimed at putting an end to fake news and hate speech, especially in our broadcast industry.

“Only those who are guilty should be afraid of the efforts to sanitize the broadcast industry. Responsible broadcasters have nothing to fear. This is not a move to stifle free speech or gag anyone. But purveyors of fake news and hate speech should not expect to sleep easy.”

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