The Federal Government has said that fake news and hate speech constitute threat to the upcoming general elections in 2019.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, stated this at the 47th meeting of the National Council on Information in Abuja on Thursday, with the theme: Tackling fake news and hate speech to enhance peace and national unity.
He said fake news has the capacity to alter the course of an election and trigger legitimacy problem for the winner as it was reported that “Russian interference and the fake news it promoted probably played a significant role in depressing Hilary Clinton’s support on the day of the country’s 2016 presidential elections”.
He said while the traditional media- radio, TV and print are a bit easier to monitor, fake news and hate speech in the cyber world are proving to be a headache for government.
” With the 2019 general elections just a little over 60 days away, there is no issue that is more relevant to the election than the issue of fake news and hate speech. The issue transcends political party lines, religion, ethnicity and even nationality. Left unchecked, fake news and hate speech constitute the biggest threat to the forthcoming elections. We are not saying it now, we said so as far back as 2017,” he said.
The minister who noted that some people have asked that there should be legislation while others have asked for sanctions stressed that FG will continue to appeal to the conscience of Nigerians and engage with relevant stakeholders to uphold the value of truth and curb the challenge.
He also said the campaign is not just the responsibility of the FG , hence called on state governments to launch the campaign in their states.
Governor Nasir Elrufai of Kaduna state, who was represented by his assistant on media and communication, Muyiwa Adekeye said FG should give states the broader jurisdiction to fight fake news in order to compliment the efforts of the government.
Also speaking, the Director General, Federal Radio Corporations of Nigeria (FRCN), Mansur Liman said Nigeria which is multi religious and multi-cultural must ensure it finds a lasting solution to the menace.