The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), has said that the Federal Government of Nigeria is considering drafting a legal framework to check the menace of fake news as the 2023 general elections draw near.
The minister made the disclosure on March 17, 2022 while delivering his keynote address at a conference organised by the National Association of Judiciary Correspondents (NAJUC) with the theme: “The Judiciary and 2023 General Elections: The way forward,” which held at the Olusegun Obasanjo Auditorium, Federal Ministry of Justice, Abuja.
Warning journalists not to allow themselves to be used by purveyors of fake news, Mr. Malami said: “With the 2023 general elections approaching, I hope this conference will address the practice where journalists would be conscripted by agents of destruction to spread false information about personalities and issues. Unprofessional media practitioners have been reporting untrue and fabricated information against public officeholders.”
He pointed out that many public officials have been victims of malicious media reports, mischievous and deliberate distortion of facts while citing an instance where the media reported that he had resigned from office.
Acknowledging that the media is important in shaping public opinion, he warned that hate speech and fake news challenge Nigeria’s cherished and collective culture of peaceful and harmonious co-existence as a people.
He however warned, “There have to be consequences for the conduct of journalists that offer themselves to conscription by agents of destruction that make it their stock-in-trade to spread fake information about personalities and issues, adding: “Effective legislative framework may be a considerable option.”
The minister also called for the enhancement of media literacy for Nigerians to enable them appreciate fact-checking and verification of information.