Soni Daniel, Abuja
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has cautioned Facebook and other social media platforms operating in the country to stop allowing the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) to use their platforms to incite violence and instigate ethnic hatred in Nigeria.
The Minister made the demand in Abuja on Tuesday at a meeting with a team from Facebook.
Mohammed said since IPOB had been proscribed and classified as a terrorist organization, Facebook has no justification for yielding its platform to the organization to further its campaign of hate and destabilization of the country.
The minister said at the meeting with Facebook team in Abuja, “I have called this meeting to enable us to discuss the increasing use of Facebook by separatists and anarchists, especially those of them based outside the country, to instigate violence and ethnic hatred in Nigeria.
“For whatever reason, they seem to have now chosen Facebook as their platform of choice. And their tools include disinformation, incendiary statements and hate speech. They use Facebook broadcasts to reach their followers, who are in thousands. “They tag those opposed to their violent ways as ‘saboteurs’ who must be attacked, maimed and killed. They use both English and their local language as it suits them,”
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The minister said the actions of the proscribed group have real-life implications, adding: ”By purveying hate and inciting violence, people are getting killed while private and public property are being attacked and destroyed. Security agencies and other symbols ofgovernment are their choice targets.”
The Minister said despite the numerous complaints to Facebook on the activities of IPOB, nothing has been done by the company to curtail the group’s excesses on the social media platform.
“Our social media people have been monitoring these separatists, anarchists and purveyors of hate, and have been reporting their atrocious actions to Facebook, but all they get are default responses that their complaints have been received and are being looked into.
Most often than not, nothing is done about such complaints… The truth is that whatever Facebook is doing to check these people is mere tokenism and is totally ineffective,” he said.
Mohammed said the government would be monitoring Facebook and other platforms closely in the days ahead to ensure compliance with the demand, as it steps up the campaign for the responsible use of social media.
“We have always advocated a responsible use of social media, and consistently called on all stakeholders to join us in achieving this. Some have tagged our efforts as an attempt to stifle social media.
They are wrong, because we have no intention of preventing Nigerians from using social media responsibly. All we have been advocating is a responsible use of social media,” he said.
It will be recalled that the Nigerian government descended heavily on Twitter for allegedly giving its platform to sinister groups to express their views while deleting President Muhammadu Buhari’s comment claiming not to recognise the handle of the President.
In response to that seemingly act of indiscretion, the Nigerian government banned Twitter operations in Nigeria for months.