The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, has said the Federal Government will not make any law or directive that will stifle the press in its ongoing effort against hate speech and fake news.
The Minister gave the assurance on Monday in Lagos when he visited the headquarters of TV Continental.
Mr. Mohammed described as fake news, the alleged directive from National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) regulating phone-in programmes and newspaper review on TV and radio programmes.
He said there was no directive whatsoever from NBC or his office to any media house, regulating phone-in programmes and newspaper review as reported in the media.
The Minister said there was a brainstorming meeting among stakeholders including NBC, media owners and others in Lagos where issues affecting the industry were discussed.
He said it was one of the participants at the meeting that leaked out the issues raised, which were never adopted as government directive or policies.
Mr. Mohammed reiterated that “no government that stifles the press, ever succeeds” and the Federal Government will not make laws or issue directive to gag the media.
He said the position of the government has been and still remains that the industry should regulate itself.
He, therefore, underscored the need for media houses to discharge their responsibilities in accordance with the dictates of their guiding codes to check the alarming rate of hate speech and fake news.
He said many Nigerians relied on newspaper review on radio and TV as their source of news daily and such review should, therefore, be done from the holistic perspective.
The minister also underscored the need for media houses to regulate the calls received during phone-in programmes to checkmate opportunists from using such avenue for hate speech.
The minister said the government would not make any new laws to tackle the challenge of hate speech because there are enough provisions for it.
He said the Anti-Terrorism Act 2011 defines hate speech amongst others, as an act deliberately done with malice and which may seriously harm or damage a country or seriously intimidate a population.
Reacting to why there was upsurge in incidents of hate speech and fake news in the country, the Minister said that the purveyors were being paid with stolen funds to whittle down the anti corruption stance of the government.
He said the upsurge was also about the 2019 general elections, to whittle down the “many achievements” recorded by the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
He said no amount of hatred would obliterate the solid achievements recorded by the Administration.
The Chief Executive Officer of TVC, Andrew Hanlon, thanked the minister for the visit.
NAN reports that the minister also featured on a live interview programme of the station.