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The newly appointed Information Minister of Nigeria, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, just concluded a meeting with social media influencers from around the country. From what we were able to gather, one of the things addressed in the meeting was social media censorship and the possibility of impeding citizens’ right to free speech.

“Let me assure you that the Federal Government does not intend to stifle free speech or abridge the rights of Nigerians to air their views freely”-HMIC, Alhaji Lai Mohammed @FMICMinister

According to him, this also extends to social media

He acknowledged the influence social media influencers, particularly bloggers have and encouraged self-regulation as against government regulation.

“The kind of debate that is being carried out on the Social Media today is exploiting the fault lines in our national unity. It is adding fuel to some low-intensity fires and, if left unchecked, could conflagrate and consume all of us,” he said.

Internet and social media censorship is a pressing issue in the country. There have been reported cases of people being jailed for comments they made on Facebook against government officials. We also reported recently the legislature’s plan to ban internet porn. Such reports make it seem as if free speech is merely an idea on a paper and not a binding agreement between the government and its citizens.

These statements by the Information Minister are meant to reassure us that our constitutional rights will be protected. Nevertheless, we look forward to concrete developments from these frequent meetings with the social media community.

Ibukun Taiwo | Author

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