The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed has insisted that the use of social media must be subjected to scrutiny, saying “reckless use” shall not be allowed.
The minister made this statement today in Lagos during a meeting with title editors of newspapers.
Mr. Mohammed blamed the circulation of fake news as a tool that amplified the EndSARS protest; he reiterated that government would not sit down and allow the reckless use of social media until it set the country on fire.
A lot of police station suffered damages including lives and properties during the EndSARS protest to end police brutality in October.
After two weeks of the protest, hoodlums hijacked it and resorted to violence and burglary that made the public lost many of their valuables and investments.
The Minister in his statement said, “Our fears about the abuse of social media, and specifically the dangers posed by fake news and disinformation, have come to pass. During the protest and the subsequent violence, fake news and disinformation was the order of the day,”
“Social media was used for mobilization, and it was also used to guide arsonists and looters to properties, both public and private, which were targeted for attack.
“Celebrities who were listed as killed at Lekki quickly dispelled the report of their deaths. Discerning Nigerians exposed the fact that pictures of some non-Nigerians were used to justify the hoax massacre at the Lekki Toll Gate.
According to Lai Mohammed, the government in collaboration with stakeholders has concluded a plan to stop social media from being abused, insisting that the debate to regulate social media is still in force though not limited to Nigeria, he said.
The Minister said the government would not allow the country to be thrown into turmoil because of social media, therefore, regulating social media is a must. Although he revealed that it does not amount to shutting down the internet or gagging the freedom of the press as some people are insinuating while acknowledging the fact that social media have come to stay.
He added that the incident at Lekki was more of a “fake massacre”, while attacks on security personnel were ignored.
The Minister blamed the newsmen for giving more attention to the fake claim of a massacre than the genuine gruesome murder of security personnel during the incident. He said, “While everyone was fixated on the fake massacre at Lekki Toll Gate, few paid attention to the way and manner policemen and soldiers were killed,”
He said no news media carried the report of how,” 196 policemen were injured; 164 police vehicle destroyed and 134 police stations burnt down. In addition, the violence left 57 civilians dead, 269 private/corporate facilities burnt/looted/vandalized, 243 government facilities burnt/vandalized and 81 warehouses looted.”
Meanwhile, he said, the government is currently reviewing the crises of the #EndSARS.