The Federal Government has expressed utmost displeasure over the conduct of some online news media whose reportage is counter-productive to the efficient and effective execution of the peace enforcement measures in states under emergency rule. Information Minister Mr. Labaran Maku made the feelings of the government known in Osogbo, Osun State at the 44th National Council on Information with the theme ” Social Media and Public Information Management”.
He said: ” In particular, I refer to Sahara Reporters and Premium Times, both of which frequently publish online reports deliberately contrived to undermine military strategy, demoralise our troops, or even cause incitement to mutiny. This is unacceptable”.
Mr. Maku said the Defence Headquarters had cause to complain on several occasions about inciting online reports which clearly undermine military operations by terrorists who are emboldened, and setting the people against security forces in their campaign in the North East.
He therefore admonished the online publishers to show patriotism and refrain from the unprofessional conduct.
According to Mr. Maku, terrorism knows no boundary and that Nigeria is currently battling a terror network that is internationally connected to further their mission of creating chaos and instability in the country, which makes it imperative for the media to support the government in the ongoing campaign against terrorism.
The Minister expressed disappointment over the intense politicisation of last week’s operation by security forces against a terror cell in Abuja and said politicians’ lack of cooperation with security agencies was one of the key reasons why terrorism grew out of control in the North East and spread to other parts of the North.
He however observed that the social media are playing significant role in deepening the nation’s democracy through public participation in the discourse on the way the society is governed.
Mr. Maku decried how some people misuse the opportunity offered by the social media to perpetrate crime and ventilate hate messages, terror and threats to the unity and stability of the country.
The said the present administration believes in media freedom and would not gag any medium but there has to be some forms of regulation in the social media.
He mentioned that the Federal Government is currently drafting a bill on Cyber Crime, in line with global best practice, which would soon be tabled before the National Assembly for deliberation.
The Minister on the other hand, enjoined public information managers to take advantage on the popularity of the social media to publicise the activities, policies and programmes of government.
He said about 48 million Nigerians now use the internet and that government would deepen internet penetration in the country through the broadband network which would come on stream very soon to speed up the transfer of voices and data.
Speaking while declaring the Council open, Osun State Governor, Rauf Aregbesola, urged participants to debate on the regulation of the social media and also reflect on the role of information in socio-economic development of the country.
He said Osun State is utilising limitless opportunities provided by information and communication technology to enhance educational development through the provision of e-books to high school students.
Mr. Aregbesola disclosed that Osun State has launched an electronic platform www.osun.gov.ng to enlighten internet users about the activities of government and also provide opportunity for interaction between the government and the citizens.