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Hate Speech: We are going ahead with our plan ― Lai Mohammed
THE Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed has emphasised that the Federal Government would carry on with its plan to regulate social media in Nigeria over hate speech and fake news.
He disclosed the government’s plan during a courtesy visit by the Nigerian Union of Journalist (NUJ) National Executive led by Chris Isiguzo along with other executive members in Abuja on Monday.
Mohammed said the NUJ had failed to contact the ministry to lodge any complaints concerning the regulation before they approached the media to condemn the regulations.
“If the NUJ or the Guild of Editors, or indeed any professional body has any fears, we expect them to reach out and engage us, rather than rushing to the media to condemn a plan to inject sanity into the social media space and protect the integrity of the media,” Mohammed said.
According to him, the NUJ had put the cart before the horse by publicly rejecting the planned social media regulation without even trying to understand what it entails.
Mohammed said, “As a professional body for journalists, the NUJ has its code of ethics for journalists, and this guides their operation”.
He noted that to the best of his knowledge, the trained, professional journalists cannot afford to engage in fake news because it will kill the public trust in the media.
Mohammed said that the media could not afford to engage in hate speech, because of the implication for national peace and unity, adding there has to be a country before the media can practise the profession.
He said the plan is to inject sanity into the social media space and it has nothing to do with gaggling journalists or stifling free speech.
“When we announced the plan to regulate social media, we said clearly that the regulation is not an attempt to gag the media or muzzle free speech. We said journalists have nothing to fear,” he noted.
Speaking on the activities that have been put in place on the regulation, Mohammed said letters have been dispatched to the stakeholders concerning the regulations.
“We will not unilaterally impose measures aimed at injecting sanity into the social media space. We will work with stakeholders, including the NUJ, Guild of Editors, Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria, the Civil Society, Online Publishers, Bloggers, etc,” he added.
He said a government that has the intention of gagging the media won’t engage stakeholders in dialogue on the way forward.
He said the NUJ and other media professional bodies should take the lead in sanitising the social media space, because they would be the first victim when the people lose confidence in the media