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Presidency insists on controlling social media

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The Presidency has blamed non-control of social media as the cause of deaths of several people in the country and other harms.

The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, who made the claim, said it was necessary for social media to be controlled because it would not be left to operate without measures.

A statement by State House on Monday and released by its deputy director, information, Mr Atta Essa, quoted Shehu to have said this at the Kawararafa Media Award in Abuja on Sunday night.

He said, “The entire Kasuwan Magani saga that resulted in the death of more than 50 people was because someone posted misleading information on WhatsApp that went viral.

“All countries in the world are trying to make laws to check the excesses. Many countries are trying to control the situation. The Europeans have placed a new law that holds the companies responsible.

“In the United Kingdom, the parliament has received a report on social media. There is youth addiction to it, just like cigarettes. Without any form of control, it has done harm to women, ethnic minorities, individuals, institutions and countries.”

According to Shehu, President Muhammadu Buhari’s government was not against free speech and that it was for that reason the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, had continually called for a meeting of stakeholders to agree on modalities for regulating social media.

He added, “The Federal Government is saying that stakeholders should come together and agree on regulation. We know that no matter how bad the situation is, it favours someone.

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“Some have argued that our Constitution already has laws on libel, but the laws of the 60s never anticipated social media.

“No government has the right to muzzle freedom of speech. We don’t support the taking of lives as punishment. People insult others and share false information on social media. I hope that hate speech will be tackled so that Nigeria will be a safe place to live in.”

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