In an apparent attempt to justify the social media regulation bill, the presidency says that social media cannot be left to operate in Nigeria without control.
According to Garba Shehu, President Muhammadu Buhari’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, who spoke at the Kawararafa Media Award in Abuja, misleading information on social media could lead to violence.
“The entire Kasuwan Magani saga that resulted in the death of more than 50 people was because someone posted misleading information on WhatsApp that went viral.
“All countries in the world are trying to make laws to check the excesses. Many countries are trying to control the situation. The Europeans have placed a new law that holds the companies responsible.
“In United Kingdom, the parliament has received a report on social media. There is youth addiction to it, just like cigarettes. Without any form of control, it has done harm to women, ethnic minorities, individuals, institutions and countries,’’ Shehu said at the event on Sunday.
He further revealed that Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information and Culture, had repeatedly called for stakeholders meeting for the regulation of social media.
Shehu noted that journalists should undergo training and licensing before reporting, but it is not the case for social media as anyone with a phone, a tablet or laptop, anyone can reach millions, sometimes for good and other times with ulterior motives.’’
“The Federal Government is saying that stakeholders should come together and agree on regulation. We know that no matter how bad the situation is, it favours someone.
“Some have argued that our Constitution already has laws on libel, but the laws of the 60s never anticipated social media.
“No government has the right to muzzle freedom of speech. We don’t support the taking of lives as punishment. People insult others and share false information on social media. I hope that hate speech will be tackled so that Nigeria will be a sane place to live in,’’ he added.
Ibrahim Kenneth Suleiman is the Chief Political Editor at Naija Buzz News Network. He is a graduate of political science from the prestigious Ahmadu Bello University Zaria, Kaduna State. He specializes in preparing/approving of political news contents before publication. He currently heads Naija Buzz News team of political correspondents. From Nasarawa State, North-Central Nigeria, Ibrahim is a strong supporter of Manchester United Football Club England.