Information Minister cautions journalists on misinformation, fake news

By Peter Usman://

Journalists within the West African subregion have been urged to join
hands with various governments to curb the activities of some compatriots in journalism profession, who take advantage of
freedom of expression to engage in misinformation and hate speech thereby spread fake news.

Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed stated this on the occasion of the presentation of UNESCO World Report on Freedom of Expression at the Regional Forum for West Africa on Thursday May 5, 2022 in Abuja.

The Minister asserted that such journalists taint the image and good works of those who desire to uphold the ethos and professionalism of the journalism profession.

Mohammed advised media practioners to be circumspect in the use of information at their disposal to avoid misinformation, fake news and hate speech which, if not properly managed, could lead to serious disaffection and chaos in the society.

As a step towards the realization of this, the Minister called on journalists and media houses in Nigeria and the West African Region at large to set up a fact- checking desk, so as to arrest the prevalence of misinformation, fake news and hate speech in our
society.

“It is a well known fact that freedom of expression is a fundamental
human right enshrined in our various statutes and legal mechanisms.
And it is also a key feature of democracy across the world. Article 19
of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights captures this succinctly.

“Over the years, countries have made efforts to liberalise the media
landscape by making it conducive for practitioners through adoption of
laws in this regard. We have also seen the glaring need to protect
journalists, as well as build their capacities to conform to the ever-changing standards of practice, especially with emerging technologies and particularly social media. UNESCO has provided leadership in this regard.

“As a country, Nigeria has always championed the observance of rights
of freedom of expression and the safety of journalists. However, we
have always insisted that this right that we all enjoy, especially as
media practitioners, comes with a huge responsibility; a responsibility that says we must be circumspect in the use of information at our disposal to avoid misinformation, fake news and hate speech which, if not well managed, could lead to serious disaffection and chaos in the society.

“I make bold to state here that Nigeria has a vibrant, pluralistic and
free press, and this would not have been possible without an enabling
environment.

“I reiterated this point when I received the executive members of the
Nigerian chapter of the International Press Institute, IPI at my
office in Abuja recently. At that meeting, I restated the commitment
of the present Administration, led by His Excellency, President
Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, that under our watch, the media will never be seen as a threat, but as key partners in progress of our dear country.

“At this juncture, please permit me to say that in Nigeria, we have
made the freedom of expression not just a guiding principle but also a
key priority, just like the safety of our media practitioners.” The Minister said.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *