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Oct
’29’
FG To Sanitise Social Media, Combat Fake News
FG Condemns Killing Of Another Aid Worker By Boko Haram
Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed

 

The Federal Government is set to sanitise the social media space to curtail fake news and hate speech.

This was disclosed on Tuesday by the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed at a press conference in Abuja.

According to Mohammed, the Federal Government will implement reforms in the broadcast industry and sanction any defaulting broadcast media.

The broadcast media reform, Mohammed added will extend to the social media space which he described as ‘totally out of control’.

READ ALSO: FG Sets Up Committee To Tackle Fake News

“Since we launched our reform of the broadcast industry, many Nigerians have reached out to us, demanding that we also look into how to sanitise the Social Media space. I can assure you that we are also working on how to inject sanity into the Social Media space which, today, is totally out of control,” he said.

Mohammed added that no responsible government would sit back and allow activities such as fake news and hate speech, which is capable of setting the country on fire, to continue unchecked.

“No responsible government will sit by and allow fake news and hate speech to dominate its media space, 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,” he said.

Mohammed had earlier disclosed that a committee has been set up to implement the recommendations approved by President Buhari on tackling hate speech and fake news.

He said 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.

 

Find below the full speech of the Minister’s address:

 

TEXT OF PRESS BRIEFING BY THE HONOURABLE MINISTER OF INFORMATION AND CULTURE, ALHAJI LAI MOHAMMED, IN ABUJA ON TUESDAY, 29 OCT. 2019

As usual, let me start by thanking you, gentlemen, for always
responding to our invitation and for your usually-reliable reports
after our briefings

– Today’s briefing, as you would imagine, is on the National Campaign
Against Fakes News and Hate Speech, which we launched last July.
Within the context of that campaign, I recently launched an effort to
rid our airwaves of fake news and hate speech. Specifically, I set up
a committee on the implementation of the recommendations that were
approved by Mr. President to inject sanity into the nation’s broadcast
industry, following the unprofessional and unethical conduct of some
broadcast stations, especially before and during the last general
elections.

The highlights of the recommendations are as follows:
i) Independence of the NBC from political interference in the
exercise of its regulatory powers, particularly with respect to the
issuance and withdrawal of broadcasting license.
ii) A review of the National Broadcasting Code and extant broadcasting
laws to reflect the following amendments;
Upward review of fines from N500,000 to N5,000,000 for breaches
relating to hate speeches, inciting comments and indecency.
Wilful repeat of infractions on three occasions after levying fine
on a station to attract suspension of license.
Upgrade of breach of political comments relating to hate speeches
and divisive comments to ”Class A” offence in the Broadcasting Code.
Amendment of the NBC Act to enable NBC license WebTv and radio stations.
iii) Recruitment of more monitoring staff for the NBC. At the moment,
there are only about 200 Staff monitoring about 1,000 radio and
television stations.
iv) Deployment of adequate monitoring equipment and technologies for
the NBC and, finally…
v) Enhancement of welfare packages of NBC staff to avoid their
compromise in the line of duty

Gentlemen, the committee is also saddled with ending all forms of
monopoly detrimental to the actualization of the immense potential of
the broadcast industry. A situation where a few people corner a chunk
of the industry to the detriment of others, especially our teeming and
talented youths is totally unacceptable and untenable.

Once the committee submits its report, we will immediately
kick-start the implementation of the approved measures to inject
sanity into our broadcast industry.

Gentlemen, since I launched the committee on the implementation of
the approved measures, there have been reactions. Many have hailed our
efforts at seeking to bring sanity to the airwaves, while some have
attacked us and accused us of trying to stifle press freedom or gag
journalists.

In the first instance, let me say this. 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.

But, as I have been saying, we have no intention of stifling free
speech or gagging journalists or anyone. Again, this Administration
has no intention of muzzling the media or stifling free speech. Our
campaign is against fake news and hate speech. However, if you engage
in disseminating fake news or hate speech, you need to be worried,
because we will not spare you. We cannot allow fake news and hate
speech to become free speech, because these Siamese Twins of Evil are
capable of inflicting untold damage on our democracy and threatening
our national unity. They represent a clear and imminent danger to our
survival as a nation.

As for monopolies, they stunt growth, kill talents and discourage
creativity. The clearest example of the creative energy that can be
unleashed when monopoly is totally broken can be seen in the
telecommunications industry. Of course, the broadcast industry has
also been liberalised. But any vestige of monopoly is antithetical to
the liberalisation of the broadcast industry and must be dismantled.
In the case of Nigeria, it’s the monopoly of content that breeds
anti-competition practices.

Gentlemen, since we launched our reform of the broadcast industry,
many Nigerians have reached out to us, demanding that we also look
into how to sanitize the Social Media space. I can assure you that we
are also working on how to inject sanity into the Social Media space
which, today, is totally out of control

No responsible government will sit by and allow fake news and hate
speech to dominate its media space, 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.

Therefore, Gentlemen, we once again seek your support for our
efforts to banish fake news and hate speech from our media space.

I thank you for your kind attention.

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