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We won’t stop until we banish fake news, hate speech as FG reviews fine to N5m

LAI Mohammed, the Minister of Information and Culture on Sunday restated commitment of the Federal Government to tackling fake news and hate speeches.

He told a group of online media publishers, Sunday in Lagos that a committee was already setup to implement the recommendations approved by President Muhammadu Buhari on the challenge of fake news.

Part of the recommendation, he stated is the upward review of the N500, 000 fine to N5, 000, 000 for the breach of hate speech regulation as well as full autonomy of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) to regulate the social media contents.

Describing hate speech and fake news as ‘Siamese twins of evil’, the Minister insisted that no responsible government would allow such to prevail in the society.

“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,” says Mohammed, who is also believed to be a purveyor of fake claims and propaganda.

“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.”

Government agencies such as the Department of State Security (DSS) and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) have severally lamented about hate speech and its threat to democracy.

They have called for legislation to check the menace while efforts are also being made to sanction fake news peddlers on Facebook.

The ICIR has dispelled several fake reports made by politicians, businessmen and private individuals through its fact checks reporting.

The Minister also tasked the online publishers to support the nationwide campaign against the menace of fake news and hate speech.

According to a report by Channels, the committee is expected to also address the problem of monopoly in the broadcast sector.

“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.”

Meanwhile, the minister himself was exposed last year for selling a dummy to Nigerians about the ransom paid by the federal government to  Boko Haram members who kidnapped female students in Dapchi, Yobe State.

‘’It is not true that we paid ransom for the release of the Dapchi girls, neither was there a prisoner swap to secure their release,” Mr. Mohammed told journalists in Maiduguri.

Contrary to this claim, the United Nations in a report confirmed that the Nigerian government paid a “large ransom.”

Mr. Muhammed has not denied that report since it was published more than a year ago.

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