Defence & Security

Social media needs co-regulation, Police spokesperson says

By Paul Michael

The Force Public Relations Officer, CSP Olumuyiwa Adejobi has urged media practitioners and critical stakeholders to join hands with the government to ensure proper regulation of social media.

Adejobi argued that such collaborations would enhance the country’s national cohesion, development, and security.

The Police spokesperson stated this at the Penpushing 4th Anniversary Lecture held on Thursday, July 21st, 2022, at the Olusegun Obasanjo Library, Abeokuta, Ogun State.

He tasked media practitioners in the country to be circumspect in carrying out their responsibility while noting that special attention should be given to authentic reportage to the society while shunning the impulsive urge to “break the news”.

According to Adejobi, “the need for Nigerians to understand and uphold the sanctity of our legal framework in order not to continually misconstrue or misjudge the efforts and engagements of the police and other law enforcers in the course of discharging their duties since they don’t make the law but rather enforce the law.”

He stated that this drive will surely bridge the gap of trust deficit and hatred sandwiching the security communities in Nigeria.

The FPRO called on all and sundry to collaborate with policymakers, security experts, as well as societal leaders to ensure a total clampdown on fake news on social media.

The Lecture had in attendance the former Governor of Ogun State, Otunba Gbenga Daniel, the Commissioner of Police Ogun State Police Command, CP Lanre Bankole, Dr Chichi Anialogu-Okoye, Ford Foundation Regional Director for West Africa, and Guest Lecturer, representative of the Ooni of Ife, Ooni Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, Ojaja 11, other revered traditional rulers, and leaders of the political class.

The pros and cons of the use of social media were adequately deliberated upon with a unanimous call for collective regulation of social media to drastically cut down on the spate of disinformation and misinformation in the country.

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The President Muhammadu Buhari administration made the initial attempt to regulate digital rights and social media in Nigeria through the Frivolous Petitions (Prohibition) Bill 2015“. The Bill was introduced in 2016 during the 8th National Assembly led by the then Senate President, Bukola Saraki but it did not see the light of the day.

In 2019, the government introduced the Protection from Internet Falsehood and Manipulations Bill 2019 (also known as the Anti-Social Media Bill) at the 9th National Assembly. The Bill sought to criminalize the peddling of false or malicious information through social media.

The Anti-Social Media Bill scaled second reading at the Nigerian Senate, however, there was a general consensus that the bill will hinder freedom of speech and freedom of the press; a situation that led to major pushback from stakeholders against the passing of the bill.

There is a public sentiment against the regulation of Social Media in Nigeria. This has made its regulation a major hurdle for the FG to scale through.

Social Media has been a major tool for criticism of government policies and actions. Citizens across the country have taken advantage of various social media platforms to hold the government accountable and demand good governance, which has been globally acclaimed to be missing in Nigeria.

After being the major tool used for organizing, promoting, publicising, and sustaining the #EndSARS campaign that crippled the country for several months in 2020, the Buhari government banned the use of Twitter, one of the leading social media platforms from 5th June 2021 to 13th January 2022.

The ban followed the deletion of tweets warning Biafra agitators of the implications of a repeat of the 1967 Civil War and the suspension of President Buhari Twitter account.

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