The Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, has decried the level of acrimony and slander that currently dominate the nation’s social media space.
He made this known during a town hall at a meeting in Abuja on “Social Media and anti-Hate Speech Bills” organised by Daar Communications PLC.
Malami was represented by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Umar Gwandu.
According to him, Nigeria needs social media more in the areas of enhancing national unity, patriotism, human capacity development, including entrepreneurial skills and not for tearing the nation apart.
“The rate at which the proliferation of acrimony and vilifying statements dominate the social media space is alarming. The consequence of which will be dangerous. No society will fold its arm and allow such ominous crime to go unchecked,” he said.
He, however, said that the media had tried vigorously in the entrenchment of democratic governance and had been instrumental in the process of ensuring good governance through the fight against corruption and upholding the rule of law in line with Section 22 of the 1999 Constitution.
“Nigeria operates a constitutional democracy that guarantees freedom of expression thereby providing a conducive atmosphere and veritable platforms that enable Nigerians their inalienable fundamental rights to unhindered ventilation of opinions.
“No doubt, recent developments where Nigerians freely articulate varied viewpoints on numerous national issues are clear testimonies to the commitment of the Federal Government with the doctrine of freedom of expression.”
The attorney-general further said with the absence of gate-keeping processes of the conventional media, individuals with neither the skills of information verification nor the use of what the reality was had taken it upon themselves to be the purveyors of fake news, hatred, and animosity.
“Some turn the platforms into avenues for committing heinous internet fraud and cybercrime,” he added.
Declaring the forum open, President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan, said the issues had become topical because of the new realities.
“The realities have come because of the fresh gains in media and information technologies.”