Let’s Find A Way To Tackle Hate Speech, Fake News – Lawan

 

President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan has said it is important to come to an understanding of the best approach in finding a way to address the challenge of hate speech and fake news.

According to him, as a democratic nation, where dialogue is characterized by ceaseless conflict, there can be no progress.

Lawan who was speaking during a town hall forum on Media, Regulation, Society and Governance in Abuja on Monday, asked if the country should rely on existing laws to deal with supposed infractions such as fake news and hate speech, or if there are even enough laws to deal with them.

“We are a democratic nation where dialogue, conversation, disagreement and agreement are central to how we resolve our issues.

“Where do we go from here as a nation, can we really say we have enough laws to deal with infractions and if so, are we implementing them enough? He asked.

READ ALSO: Okada Ban: Lagos Deploys 65 Buses Across Major Routes

He called on stakeholders to be dispassionate in addressing the issues, stating that the conclusion drawn from the town hall meeting will help the National Assembly and the Federal Government in addressing the challenges.

“As stakeholders in civil society, we should be dispassionate and be able to examine all matters critically.

“Emotions and sentiments hardly help in a gathering like this one, if our minds are open to all lines of thought; we’ll then develop a sense of perspective.

“Our conclusions will be subsequently helpful to the National Assembly and the government at large,” he added.

Algeria Plans To Ban ‘Hate Speech’

Algerians chant slogans as they take part in an anti-government demonstration in the center of the capital Algiers on January 10, 2020.
RYAD KRAMDI / AFP

 

The president of protest-hit Algeria, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, plans to outlaw “hate speech” that has proliferated on social networks in recent months, his office said Monday.

Tebboune asked Prime Minister Abdelaziz Djerad to draft a bill “criminalising all forms of racism … and hate speech in the country,” according to a statement published by the official APS press agency.

The new initiative follows “an upsurge in hate speech and incitement,” the presidential statement said.

Algerian social networks have become a battleground for rival political camps after they gave rise to the popular “Hirak” protest movement that in April ended the 20-year reign of president Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

The tone became more aggressive in the run-up to a December 12 presidential election, held in the face of strong opposition from the protest movement which saw the polls as an attempt by the establishment to consolidate its power.

All five candidates who ran in the poll had links to Bouteflika, with Tebboune having served as one of his prime ministers. Official turnout was less than 40 percent.

The law would allow authorities “to confront those who exploit the freedom and peaceful nature of Hirak” by brandishing “slogans that undermine national cohesion,” the statement said.

The initiative has sparked fierce debate on social media between those who back it and those who see it as an unneccessary measure, with some wary that it could give wide scope to crack down on legitimate protest.

The planned law stipulates that “everyone is called upon to comply with the Constitution and laws of the Republic, in particular respect for… the Nation state and its values… as well as the symbols of the state.”

Nearly a year after the launch of the popular movement, its activists continue to demand an end to the governing system in place since the country’s independence from France in 1962.

 

AFP

My Party Originated Hate Speech – APC Chieftain

 

A human rights advocate and chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Joshua Alobo, on Monday, insinuated that his party originated activities that can now be interpreted as hate speech in the current administration.

Mr Alobo was responding to a question on Sunrise Daily, about the Department of State Services’ treatment of founder of RevolutionNow, Omoyele Sowore.

He said he was “seriously embarrassed” by the situation as Sowore was “among those who canvassed for the ‘change’ mantra.”

“APC, in which I am a chieftain, originates hate speech,” Mr Alobo, who is the President of the International Human Rights and Development Centre, continued.

“Look at what happened at . . . even Lai Muhammed and the rest, nobody was arrested. Look at the fuel subsidy protest at the freedom square. If not that Jonathan was proactive to deploy soldiers . . . I was in Abuja; even though I wasn’t in the general protest, I was using my vehicle to monitor the whole situation. 

“So a lot of showbiz was going on during the Jonathan administration, they don’t look at it as a threat to the government. What is Sowore? They are just making the guy to be too popular, I don’t know him as a person. But they have been reading Sahara Reporters right from Jonathan era, a lot of information has been disclosed and all those things. 

 

Mr. Joshua Alobo was a guest on Channels TV’s Sunrise Daily on Monday

 

“So if a media practitioner cannot express his opinion, then what will he do? And this is a man that has the pedigree of activism right from University. So the DSS for goodness sake should not bring another terrorist group. It is the suppression of Yusuf Muhammed that escalated into what we have now as Boko Haram.”

Sowore was re-arrested by the DSS on Friday less than 24 hours after he was released from the agency’s custody. The move has drawn condemnation from several quarters, including Nobel laureate, Wole Soyinka and the US government.

However, the DSS has said Sowore was re-arrested because he resorted to “acts inimical to security” shortly after being released from its custody.

Defamation, Libel Laws Inadequate To Tackle Hate Speech – Sabi Abdullahi

A file photo of Senator Sabi Abdullahi

 

 

The Deputy Chief Whip of the Senate, Senator Sabi Abdullahi, on Thursday said existing laws on defamation and libel are grossly inadequate to tackle hate speech in its form.

He stated this against the backdrop of criticism and reactions to the introduction of the Hate Speech Bill by the National Assembly.

Senator Abdullahi who represents Niger North Senatorial District in the National Assembly explained that parliaments across the world have identified hate speech as a new “threat that dehumanises and targets individuals and groups, and also threatens peace in a diversified society.”

He stated that the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, which is a 47-nation member organisation, in a report identified threats posed by hate speech to include exclusion among minority groups, alienation, marginalisation, emergence of parallel societies, and ultimately radicalisation.

READ ALSO: ‘You Can’t Muzzle Nigerians,’ IBB Condemns Hate Speech Bill

The lawmaker warned that these were present features in the socio-dynamics of Nigeria as a nation and have placed the country on the brink of implosion from the effect of hate speech.

“The provisions of defamation and libel laws in Nigeria clearly lack the grip to tackle the dimensions of hate speech in acts such as victimisation, marginalisation, and exclusion,” he said in a statement.

Senator Abdullahi added that the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, in its resolutions contained in a publication entitled ‘The Role and Responsibilities of Political Leaders in Combating Hate Speech and Intolerance’, endorsed criminal legislation to prohibit and sanction hate speech.

The publication, according to him, read in part, “The Assembly believes that a wide range of measures is necessary to counter hate speech, ranging from self-regulation, particularly by political movements and parties, and in the statutes and rules of procedure of national and local elected bodies, to civil, administrative and criminal legislation prohibiting and sanctioning its use.”

Citing countries such as Germany and France, the lawmaker stated that the parliaments of both countries passed a landmark law in 2018 and 2019 respectively to fight online hate speech.

According to him, these and many other countries all have defamation and libel laws but have introduced legislation to tackle hate speech as a specific threat.

“Hate Speech bill is about prohibiting incitement to discrimination, hostility, and violence,” Senator Abdullahi stressed.

He explained that the new legislation passed by France and Germany compelled all social media networks to remove offending content as well as create buttons to enable users to flag cases of abuse.

In a related development, the lawmaker lauded the position of the United Nations on the introduction of the Hate Speech Bill without a death penalty by the National Assembly.

“I must commend the United Nations for its position on the Hate Speech bill without the death penalty.

“It goes to show that they understand the gravity of the problems and threats face by Nigeria as a united entity, and which the National Assembly is taking proactive measures to address with this bill,” he said.

NANS Warns FG Over Hate Speech, Social Media Bills

 

The national leadership of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS) has cautioned the Federal Government over the proposed Social Media Bill and the Hate Speech Bill and called on Nigerians to raise their voices against the two bills.

At a press conference held at the Iweirohin House of the Nigeria Union of journalists in Abeokuta, the Ogun State capital, the National Public Relations Officer of the Association, Azeez Adeyemi, described the bills as anti-human which if allowed to stand could undermine the rights of Nigerians.

“Our attention has been drawn to an attempt by the federal government of Nigeria in connivance with a senator representing Niger-East, Senator Muhammad Sani Musa to silence the Nigeria populace especially the youth of which the students constitute it largest percentage through a social media bill,” he said.

“The bill had last week passed the second reading at the floor of the red chamber, which means it is on its way to becoming a law”.

“Part 3 (12) of the bill gives law enforcement agencies the power to shut down access to the internet and social media without recourse to the National Assembly or a court.”

“There is no doubt that the Nigerian government is all out to clamp down on critics of their anti-human policies and acts. However, any government going this way is gradually moving toward anarchy, a point Nigerian students will resist with every strength we have.”

Read Also: 50% Of Journalists Could Be Jailed If Hate Speech Bill Is Passed, Says Rep Member

“In a related development, through Sen. Sabi Abdullahi (APC, Deputy Chief Whip), the Nigerian government is also backing a Hate Speech Bill, otherwise called the ‘Prohibition of Hate Speech Bill’.”

He believes that the bills could infringe on the fundamental rights of Nigerians.

“These bills are tactical moves to shut the ordinary man, youths and the journalist to pave way for their impunity.”

“If this bill is allowed to thrive, the government will be vested with the sole power to determine what a hate speech is, and as a result witch shunt opponents and even journalists.”

“On this note, Nigerian students stand firm against the social media bill in totality and every other thing it might stand for.”

“We have students in other countries of the world but they will never be caged the way the Nigerian government is trying to muscle us as if they want the world to end in this century.”

“Even when the social media bill is yet to be passed into law, lawmakers are beginning to witch shunt our students who talk about their anti-masses behaviours on social media.”

“It should be noted that only a students/elite could identify most of these wicked act of politicians as some of them pose to be good intentions even when they meant the opposite.”

An injury to one is an injury to others

“As we speak, one of our students, a second-year student in the Department of Science and Technology Education, Bayero University,
Yahuza Tijjani is currently in prison custody for speaking his mind on his Facebook wall allegedly against a member of the state assembly. ”

“He was picked since September 30, 2019, after posting the following on his Facebook wall “You know he’s not well educated, as a result of which he doesn’t know how to calculate figures. He said 1230, he later said 1500 and at the ended saying 2000.”

“In another post, Tijjani also wrote, “I pray to God almighty that the election petition tribunal [will] declare the election of state’s assembly member representing Madobi as inconclusive”.

“For posting the above, the lawmaker through the police got Tijani arrested, make him spend seven days at the state criminal investigation department, Police ‘Zone 1’ regional headquarters in Kano state before he was sent to jail by the magistrate.”

“However, the lawmaker, Kabiru Is’mail, and Tijjanis are natives of Madobi Local Government Area.”

“Clearly, this is a complete case of inhumanity to man and such a power-drunk attitude will not be allowed against any of our students in the country. ”

“To this end, we appeal to the said Hon. Kabiru Is’mail to as a matter of urgency release Tijjanis within the next 72 hours or joined the list of enemies of our students as we are ready to fight any oppressor to stand still on this issue.”

“We, however, enjoin our students in Kano state to remain calm and not take laws into their own hands as we shall confront when the time for that comes.”

“The National President of NANS, Com. Danielson Akpan has, however, directed that state Chairmen of NANS with indigenous students associations should stage a peaceful protest to their different state assemblies after which there will be a national students protest to the National Assembly against this anti masses bill,” he concluded.

Hate Speech Is The Root Cause Of Violence, Says Senator Abdullahi

 

Hate speech has been attributed to the root cause of violence across the country.

Senator Sabi Abdullahi, sponsor of the widely debated National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speech bill has said.

The bill is currently on the floor of the National Assembly and has created lots of reactions across the country, particularly the death penalty clause, which Senator Abdullahi has promised will be amended by the senate.

READ ALSO: Lawyer Says Hate Speech Bill Is A ‘Distraction, Waste Of Time’

Speaking on Channels Television Sunrise Daily on Tuesday, Senator Abdullahi explained that all the violence recorded in the country is preceded by hate speech and the bill when passed into law, will address the dangers hate speech poses for the country.

“I am still strongly convinced that the problem of hate speech is one that Nigeria must tackle. From what I have studied, both from a lot of scholars that have gone on the subject of violence in the country, there is a conclusion that almost all the violence is preceded by hate speech.

“Yes there may be a crisis between groups, but what will lead to violence is that somebody must have said something that is inciting to violence and that is how people who are innocent will fall victims, losing their lives and livelihood for no just cause because somebody somewhere is irresponsible enough to incite other people to that violence.

He added: “What is the cause of the violence? Hate speech is at the root of it. When we talk about hate speech, the issue of incitement comes in.”

The Senator urged Nigerians not to panic and detach emotional sentiments from the issue because the bill will reflect the views of Nigerians when it goes through legislative input by the National Assembly.

“Nigerians have agreed that there is a problem of hate speech, so the issue of agreement will come at the end of the day because the engagement process of the bill is still on and the beauty of democracy is that we are able to engage, have a conversation and talk through the issue whether good or bad and at the end of the day, if there is a consensus there will be r650 for action.”

Social Media Regulation: FG Not Attempting To Gag The Media – Lai Mohammed

 

Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed has said that the recent move by the Federal Government to regulate the social media space from fake news and hate speech is not aimed at gagging the media.

Mr Mohammed made this known when he received the National Executives of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) led by its President, Christopher Isiguzo on a courtesy visit in Abuja.

He said that if the NUJ and other media professional bodies, they should reach out and engages the government, instead of rushing to the media to condemn the move to protect the integrity of the media.

“As a professional body for journalists, the NUJ has its code of ethics for journalists, and this guides their operation. To the best of my knowledge, the trained, professional journalists cannot afford to engage in fake news, because this will kill public trust in the media. They also cannot afford to engage in hate speech, because of its implication for national peace and unity. After all, there has to be a country before you can even practice your profession.

“When we announced the plan to regulate the 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.”

READ ALSO: Hate Speech Bill: Propose Death Penalty For Corrupt Politicians, Falana Tells NASS

Mr Mohammed urged media practitioners to lead in sanitizing the social media space because they will be the first victim when the people lose confidence in the media due to the reckless actions of non-journalists and purveyors of fake news and hate speech.

“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.

“Already, we have dispatched letters to these stakeholders. A government that has the intention of gagging the media won’t engage stakeholders in dialogue on the way forward.”

He explained that the Federal Government has taken the initiative to adopt the use of technology, legislation and regulatory bodies, but it is up to the stakeholders to decide the best option.

“But we have also taken the initiative to meet, very soon, with the platform owners, like Facebook, Whatsapp, Google, Twitter and Instagram, among others, to engage them on the way forward.

“But I must say that rushing to reject the plan without bothering to understand what it entails is not helpful, and constitutes panic reaction.”

Mr Mohammed stated that the Federal Government will still go ahead with the plan to stop purveyors of fake news and hate speeches. Adding that, no responsible government will allow such acts to reign freely.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Senator Vows To Go Ahead With Bill To Establish Prohibition Of Hate Speech

File Photo

 

The sponsor of the bill to establish a National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speech, Senator Abdullahi Sabi, has vowed to go ahead with the bill despite criticism from various quarters.

Briefing journalists at the National Assembly on Monday, Senator Sabi explained that he is sponsoring the bill because of the dangers that hate speech portends for the country.

He added that the bill has no ethnic or political undertones.

Read Also: Senate Introduces Bill To Prohibit Hate Speech

The bill was introduced on the floor of the Senate on November 12.

According to the lawmakers, the purpose for which the Commission is being proposed is to eliminate all forms of hate speech in Nigeria and to advise the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on all aspects thereof.

The bill also proposes that any person who commits an offence deemed as hate speech, shall be liable to life imprisonment and where the act causes any loss of life, the person shall be punished with death by hanging.

Section 4 of the Bill defined the act of hate speech as:

(1) A person who uses, publishes, presents, produces, plays, provided, distributes and/or directs the performance of any material, written and or visual which is threatening, abusive or insulting or involves the use of threatening, abusive or insulting words or behavior commits an offence if such person intends thereby to stir up ethnic hatred, or having regard to all the circumstances, ethnic hatred is likely to be stirred up against any person or person from such an ethnic group in Nigeria.

2) Any person who commits an offence under this section shall be liable to life imprisonment and where the act causes any loss of life,  the person shall be punished with death by hanging.

READ ALSO: FG To Sanitise Social Media, Combat Fake News

The bill proposal came about a week after the Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulations Bill 2019, passed through first reading at the Senate.

The proposed legislation seeks to prevent the broadcasting of falsehood and manipulations using social media platforms via internet broadcasts and transmissions.

It is reminiscent of the Social Media Bill which was introduced in the Eight Assembly but was not passed because of widespread condemnation of the bill which some Nigerians felt was intended to stifle freedom of expression.

Anti Hate Speech Bill An Abuse Of Legislative Process – Atiku

 

The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the last general elections, Atiku Abubakar, has said that the bill being conceived by the National Assembly to tackle hate speeches and other social media related contents is an abuse of legislative process.

In a statement on Tuesday, the former Vice President said the bill is one which will violate Nigerians’ constitutionally guaranteed right to Freedom of Speech.

He stated that the bill sponsored by Senator Sabi Abdullahi is obnoxious, adding that the lawmakers should rather make laws to tackle pressing domestic challenges across the country.

READ ALSO: Senate Introduces Bill To Prohibit Hate Speech

Atiku’s statement reads:

“Atiku Abubakar wishes to sound a note of caution to those now toying with the idea of an Anti Hate Speech Bill, with punishment for supposed Hate Speech to be death by hanging. The contemplation of such laws is in itself not just hate speech, but an abuse of the legislative process that will violate Nigerians’ constitutionally guaranteed right to Freedom of Speech.

Atiku urges those behind this Bill to awake to the fact that Nigeria’s democracy has survived its longest incarnation, because those who governed this great nation between 1999 and 2015 never toyed with this most fundamental of freedoms. It is prudent to build upon the tolerance inherited from those years and not shrink the democratic space to satisfy personal and group interests.

Freedom of Speech was not just bestowed to Nigerians by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), it is also a divine right given to all men by their Creator. History is littered with the very negative unintended consequences that result when this God given right is obstructed by those who seek to intimidate the people rather than accommodate them.

We should be reminded that history does not repeat itself. Rather, men repeat history. And often, to disastrous consequences.

Nigeria presently has too many pressing concerns. We are now the world headquarters for extreme poverty as well as the global epicentre of out-of-school children. Our economy is smaller than it was in 2015, while our population is one of the world’s fastest growing. We have retrogressed in the Corruption Perception Index of Transparency International, from the position we held four years ago, and our Human Development Indexes are abysmally low.

It therefore begs the question: should we not rather make laws to tackle these pressing domestic challenges, instead of this Bill, which many citizens consider obnoxious?

Again, Atiku cautions that we must prioritise our challenges ahead of the whims and caprices of those who do not like to hear the inconvenient truth. Stop this folly and focus on issues that matter to Nigerians.”

Senate Introduces Bill To Prohibit Hate Speech

A file photo of lawmakers during plenary in the Senate Chamber of the National Assembly in Abuja.

 

A bill to set up a commission for the prohibition of hate speeches has been introduced on the floor of the Senate.

The Bill which is sponsored by the former Senate spokesman, Senator Abdullahi Sabi, is listed on the order paper and has passed first reading on Tuesday.

According to the lawmakers, the object and purpose for which the Commission is established eliminate all forms of hate speeches in Nigeria, and to advise the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on all aspects thereof.

Section 4 of the Bill defines the act of Hate speech as:

(1) A person who uses, publishes, presents, produces, plays, provided, distributes and/or directs the performance of any material, written and or visual which is threatening, abusive or insulting or involves the use of threatening, abusive or insulting words or behavior commits an offence if such person intends thereby to stir up ethnic hatred, or having regard to all the circumstances, ethnic hatred is likely to be stirred up against any person or person from such an ethnic group in Nigeria.

2) Any person who commits an offence under this section shall be liable to life imprisonment and where the act causes any loss of life,  the person shall be punished with death by hanging.

READ ALSO: FG To Sanitise Social Media, Combat Fake News

Last week, the Senate passed through first reading the Protection from internet falsehood and manipulations Bill 2019.

The proposed legislation seeks to prevent the spreading and broadcasting of falsehood and manipulations using social media platforms via internet broadcasts and transmissions.

This Bill is reminiscent of the Social Media Bill which was introduced in the eight assembly but was not passed because of widespread condemnation of the bill which some Nigerians felt was intended to stifle freedom of expression.

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.

FG Sets Up Committee To Tackle Fake News

Kajura Attack: FG Sends Security Operatives After Killers Of Nigerian, Briton
File: Mr Lai Mohammed addresses a press conference in Abuja on December 10, 2018.

 

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has said 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.”

READ ALSO: SERAP Asks EFCC, ICPC To Investigate MDAs Over Recruitment Sandals

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.”