Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed has said that the Federal Government will go ahead with its plan to regulate the social media.
According to the Minister, the move to regulate the social media space from fake news and hate speech was not aimed at gagging the media.
Speaking while receiving the National Executives of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, led by its President, Christopher Isiguzo on a courtesy visit in Abuja, he said no responsible government would allow fake news and hate speech to reign freely in the name of free speech.
He therefore advised that the NUJ and other media professional bodies, should reach out and engage the government, instead of being in a hurry to condemn the move to protect the integrity of the media.
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His words: “As a professional body for journalists, the NUJ has its code of ethics for journalists, and this guides their operation. To the best of my knowledge, the trained, professional journalists cannot afford to engage in fake news, because this will kill public trust in the media. They also cannot afford to engage in hate speech, because of its implication for national peace and unity. After all, there has to be a country before you can even practice your profession.
“When we announced the plan to regulate the social media, we said clearly that the regulation is not an attempt to gag the media or muzzle free speech; we said journalists have nothing to fear.
“We will not unilaterally impose measures aimed at injecting sanity into the social media space. We will work with stakeholders, including the NUJ, Guild of Editors, Newspaper Proprietors Association of Nigeria, the Civil Society, Online Publishers, Bloggers, etc.
“But I must say that rushing to reject the plan without bothering to understand what it entails is not helpful, and constitutes panic reaction.”