Ahead of the 2019 General Elections, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed has said that the Federal Government will neither censor nor coerce social.
Mohammed made this known during his visit to the Blueprint Newspaper to discourage Fake news in the country, saying that the fake news phenomenon is assuming more vicious dimension.
He, however stressed that the government has resolved to push the campaign against fake news without coercion or media censorship.
“Fake news is a global phenomenon. Zambia government recently approved a Bill to regulate social media.
[penci_blockquote style=”style-2″ align=”none” author=””] “What happened at NASS was aggravated by fake news because the world was made to believe that the APC Senators were allowed into the NASS to impeach the Senate President, Bukola Saraki.[/penci_blockquote]
“In Nigeria, we have resolved that we will rather appeal to the sense of responsibility of the media.
“We will not censor or coerce, but will appeal to the good sense and patriotism of the media to self regulate because if we don’t, it poses danger to national security, peaceful co-existence and democracy’’ he said.
The information Minister said that the peddlers of fake news had found it as a tool of choice to set the country ablaze and paint the President Muhammadu Buhari administration in bad light.
He made reference to the recent invasion of the National Assembly (NASS) by the DSS operatives, saying that fake news was used to aggravate the incident.
“What happened at NASS was aggravated by fake news because the world was made to believe that the APC Senators were allowed into the NASS to impeach the Senate President, Bukola Saraki.
“They painted the picture that the PDP Senators were denied access into NASS. As a matter of fact, a serving Senator went on air on this fake allegation that the APC Senators were already in the Chamber.
“But for that timely intervention and decisive action by the Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, this government would have attracted international opprobrium.
“It is sad that from all the commentary I have heard, nobody has identified fake news as being a trigger of this and nobody is reconstructing the story,’’ he said.
Mohammed also alluded that the report that N21 billion, weapons and Permanent Voter Cards were found in the house of sacked Director-General of the DSS, Lawal Daura was also “fake and ridiculous.’’
He said the news was ridiculous because it was unimaginable, how N21 billion in cash could be stored in a safe with 200 assorted rifles, guns and ammunition, saying that it was unfortunate that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) could act upon such fake and ridiculous report to call for the impeachment of the President.
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The minister solicited the support of Blueprint and other media outfits in the campaign against fake news.
The Chairman of the newspaper, Alhaji Mohammed Idris assured Mohammed of the support of the medium, and noted that politicians had a lot of roles to play to stem the tide of fake news because of the dangers it portend for the country.
The publisher also underscored the need to mainstream the media to redirect its focus and be timelier in disseminating authentic news.