The Federal Government has said it had begun the process of sanitizing the social media space to prevent it from setting the nation on fire.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, stated this yesterday in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja. “As a matter of fact, we have already put in motion the machinery for this.
“We have written letters to the major stakeholders who would nominate representatives and we are going to sit down together to decide on how best to confront this menace,” he said.
Mohammed said the government had the responsibility to keep the country together, adding that social media would not be left alone to destabilise the nation.
The minister said the government welcomed the debate that had followed the decision and announcement to sanitise the social media space and the airwaves.
“We are glad about the criticism because what we set out to achieve is to bring the matter to the front burner of discourse.
“We are not under any illusion that the people will take this hook line and sinker.
“We are, however, glad that there are more people who believe that the social media poses imminent danger to the unity of Nigeria, especially as they have become merchants of fake news and hate speech,” he said.
Mohammed stressed that those who opposed the regulation of the social media had not denied the fact that the platform was being used by purveyors of fake news and hate speech with grave consequences.
“Their concern, largely, which is unfounded, is that it might lead to the stifling of the freedom of press or gaggling the media. However, we want to make it clear that it is not our intention to do this.
“The only people who are afraid of the decision to sanitise the social media and the airwaves are the purveyors of hate speech and fake news.
“It must be put on record that Nigeria is not the only country that is doing something about this. Germany, Egypt, Russia, India and the United Kingdom (UK) are all doing something about regulating the social media platform,” he said.
Mohammed expressed concern that the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) and other media professional bodies, which were supposed to support the regulation, were kicking against it.
“This is amusing, because they should be glad as they are the ones we are protecting.
“The honest truth is that the established, well trained professional journalists do not indulge in fake news and hate speech because they have regulatory bodies already.
“The NUJ has a regulatory body and Code of Conduct and they are largely not the one responsible for the dissemination of fake news and hate speech.
“I am, therefore, really surprised that such criticism is coming from them because they are the people we are protecting and they are the ones that will benefit the more from the government action,” he said.
The minister reiterated that no amount of criticism and opposition would stop the regulation of social media and the airwaves.
“We heard all kinds of threat; some even went as far as calling for the removal of the minister.
“Let me assure them that the minister is not perturbed by this and we are focused.
“No amount of intimidation, sponsored articles in any form is going to stop us from regulating social media.
“This is not just a menace to the government; many people have committed suicide because their reputation had been destroyed by the social media,” he said.
Mohammed reiterated that the Federal Government would neither gag the media nor stifle the freedom of speech in regulating social media platforms.
On the regulation of the media space, the minister said he would receive recommendations on the implementation process, in a few days, from the committee he recently inaugurated.
He said the committee had also received a lot of attacks from some critics that the intention was nothing but an attempt to gag the media and stifle free speech.
“Again, our answer to this is simple. Under our watch, hate speech will not become free speech.
“Let me say once again that only those who are purveyors of fake news and hate speech have things to fear from these recommendations,” Mohammed said.
According to the minister, the regulation of social media and the airwaves is in the national interest.
Malami Defies Social Distancing Directive, Says Courts Expected To Sit During Lockdown
Courts are expected to attend to matters that are urgent, essential or time-bound, even during the lockdown, Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, has said.
Malami, a senior advocate, said this in a statement issued by Dr Umar Gwandu, Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations, Office of the Minister.
“Speedy dispensation of justice is a cardinal principle of the Justice Sector Reform of the present administration, hence, time-bound cases are treated with dispatch and accorded the required attention,” Malami was quoted as said.
Malami had given the directive of the speedy dispensation of time-bound cases in a letter addressed to all heads of court on Wednesday, conveying the COVID 19 Regulation 2020.
He said that the earlier directive issued by the Chief of Justice of Nigeria (CJN) is in tandem with the COVID-19 Regulations 2020 made pursuant to Quarantine Act 2004 by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Coronavirus Humbles Me, Immigration Boss Speaks From Isolation
The Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Immigration Service, Muhammed Babandede, has said being infected with coronavirus is a humbling experience.
Babandede, who spoke from isolation for the first time since he announced that he tested positive for COVID-19 upon his return from the UK on March 22, said Nigerians should pray that the number of cases in the country doesn’t explode further.
In a video he released on Wednesday night, the immigration boss said people all over the country, especially kinsmen from his village, have been gracious with their prayers and show of love towards him.
He said, “Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I will like to thank all my friends, loved ones, officers and men, Muslims and Christians in Nigeria and abroad for the enormous prayers for my quick recovery. I am very grateful for your prayers. In reality, your prayers are helping me recover very quickly.
“I thank Allah for giving me the opportunity to be sick because it gives me the opportunity to humble myself, to also know that I am loved by such a large number of people.
“Today, the 1st of April, I am sending this short video to you to tell you I’m doing well and recovering gradually.
“Please take care always, wash your hands and maintain social distance.
“Continue to pray that Nigeria does not head towards any disaster. The numbers are still small but continue to pray that it does not grow.
“I send my love to you, especially people from my village – people from Kano, Lagos, Abuja, everywhere I can’t even mention. Thank you for your love. Maa Salam.”
Nigeria has recorded over 170 cases of COVID-19 and two attendant deaths.
Lagos and Abuja, the two cities with the highest number of patients, are currently observing a 14-day lockdown while Ogun State would commence its own effective Friday as part of measures to curb the community transmission of the virus which has infected over 900,000 people globally.
BREAKING: Markets To Open From 10am To 2pm Daily In Lagos, Ogun During COVID-19 Lockdown — FG
The Federal Government has announced that all markets in states where a lockdown was imposed (Lagos, FCT, and Ogun) will be allowed to open between 10:00 am and 2:00 pm daily.
The National Co-ordinator of the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19, Aliyu Sani, said this on Wednesday during a briefing by members of the task force.
“For markets, only shops and stalls selling food and groceries shall be allowed to open to customers between the hours of 10:00 am and 2:00 pm,” he said.
Meanwhile, for supermarkets and food stores, their opening hours must be between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm and all owners and managers have been warned to screen staff and customers before entry.
“On arrival, all staff must be screened for a high temperature and all those found to have a high body temperature above 38, will be denied entry and advised to seek immediate medical attention.
“All deliveries for supplies and products for these supermarkets must be made between the hours of 5:00 am and 9:00 am,” Sani added.
He further stated that at any point in time, the total number of customers inside each store must not exceed a third of the store’s total capacity.
After their closure at 4:00 pm, Sani urged shop owners to ensure that all shelves, aisles, and stores are cleaned and disinfected and by 6:00 pm, staff are conveyed back to their respective homes.