THE Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed has decried the alarming rate of fake news in the country, saying it is an imminent danger to the survival of Nigeria’s democracy.
Mohammed at a press briefing in Abuja on Tuesday said the present administration has no intention of muzzling the media or stifling free speech, but was focused on the fight against fake news and hate speech in the country.
In solving the menace of fake news, the minister said a campaign was launched to rid the nation’s airways of fake news and hate speech. He noted that a committee was also formed to ensure its implementation.
Mohammed said the committee was formed at the recommendation of President Muhammadu Buhari “to inject sanity into the country’s broadcast industry, flooded with unprofessional and unethical conduct of some broadcast stations, especially before and during the last general elections”.
The committee, according to him, is also saddle with ending all forms of monopoly detrimental to the actualization of the immense potential of the broadcast industry. He said the implementation would take effect once the committee submits its report.
“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,” he said.
He said no amount of attacks, sponsored or otherwise, will stop the implementation of the approved recommendations, stating that only non-patriots and anarchists would kick against measures aimed at putting an end to fake news and hate speech, especially in our broadcast industry.
“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.
“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.
“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.