Minister of Information Announces Government’s Plans to ‘Sanitise’ Social Media

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Alhaji Lai Mohammed The Minister of Information and Culture
Alhaji Lai Mohammed
The Minister of Information and Culture

Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has announced the Federal Government’s plans to “sanitise the social media space to curtail fake news and hate speech,” as the Government also commenced efforts to implement reforms in the broadcast industry under which it would sanction defaulting broadcast media houses.

Alhaji Mohammed disclosed this at a press conference he held on October 29, 2019, in Abuja.

The Minister said since the government launched its reform of the broadcast industry, many Nigerians have reached out to it, demanding that government also look into how to sanitise the Social Media space. He assured the journalists that government is also working on how to inject sanity into the Social Media space which, according to him, “is totally out of control.”

Justifying government action, the Minister said: “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 had earlier on October 20, 2019 disclosed that the government had set up a committee to implement the recommendations approved by President Buhari on tackling hate speech and fake news in the nation’s broadcast industry, saying 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.

Speaking further, he reiterated that he had set up a committee on the implementation of the recommendations that were approved President Muhammadu Buhari “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.”

He enumerated the highlight of the recommendations as follows:

  • 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.
  • 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. Willful 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.
  • Recruitment of more monitoring staff for the NBC.
  • Deployment of adequate monitoring equipment and technologies for the NBC and,
  • Enhancement of welfare packages of NBC staff to avoid their compromise in the line of duty.