We will not rest until we regulate social media – Lai Mohammed

Lai Mohammed

Nigeria’s information minister Lai Mohammed says the regime of President Muhammadu Buhari will continue to push for regulation of social media until it achieves it.

The minister said this in spite of the ongoing engagement with Twitter.

Mr Mohammed, who is in Washington to lobby foreign media on behalf of the regime he serves, was reacting to a report that he “sneaked out of Nigeria to meet with Twitter executives’’ in the U.S.

“When you talk about fake news and its danger, we need to take it seriously and I am happy that the entire world has now seen what we saw more than two years ago.

“I can assure you that we will not rest until we regulate social media, otherwise, nobody will survive it,’’ Mr Mohammed assured.

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The minister told state-owned newswire NAN on Wednesday that his visit to Washington has nothing to do with the microblogging and social networking platform.

He said he was in the U.S. to meet with international media organisations and think tanks on the achievements of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration and efforts made so far in tackling insurgency, banditry and all forms of criminality.

Mr Mohammed said the online report was an example of the danger fake news and unregulated social media portend for the country.

Can a minister sneak out of Nigeria without people knowing?” Mr Mohammed queried. “How can you come and say I sneaked out of the country?’’

So far, the Nigerian minister has engaged with the BBC Radio and TV, Bloomberg and Polico in Washington DC.

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“You and I have been here, have I met with any twitter official­?” He asked NAN.

The minister reiterated the position that the federal government suspended Twitter operation in the country not because it deleted the tweet by the President as being propagated in some section of the media.

He said the operation of the microblogging medium was suspended because of its persistent use of its platform for activities that were capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.

He also underscored the need for the organisation to register as a business entity and obtain licence from the National Broadcasting Commission to carry out its activities.

The action of the Buhari regime attracted lots of flak from local and international rights groups. Governments of the United States and diplomatic missions of Western countries including UK, Canada, Sweden and others also condemned the clampdown on Twitter.

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Mr Mohammed said the engagement between Twitter and the federal government on how to resolve the issue of the ban had reached an advanced stage.

Specifically, he said the end for the amicable settlement of the ban was in sight. 

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