Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed has declared that the recent #EndSARS native nationwide protests against police brutality and demand for good good governance was planned, hatched and fought on social Media by Nigerians.
He made the revelation when he appeared before the House of Representatives Committee on Information, National Orientation, Ethics and Values on Tuesday.
SARS is the acronym for Special Anti-Robbery Squad, a unit of the Nigeria Police that was recently disbanded by the government.
The minister said: “The recent #ENDSARS war was fought on social media. They mobilised using social media. The war today revolves around two things. Smartphones and data and these young men don’t even watch television or listen to the radio or read newspapers.
“You will be shocked that when you start arguing with your children, they will be quoting the social media. So, we need a social media policy in Nigeria and we need to empower the various agencies and we need technology to be able to regulate the social media”.
Mohammed while responding to to questions from the lawmakers when he appeared before the Committee to defend the 2021 budget proposal, alleged that nation was sitting on a keg of gun powder regarding the issue of fake news and need to immediately begin to go regulate the social media space in form of a national policy as it is in some other climes.
The minister who highlighted the steps the federal government-led by President Muhammadu Buhari has taken so far raise public awareness on the danger of fake news, misinformation and disinformation, clarified that the government was not seeking to shut down the social media space in the country because “the social media has come to stay”, but to have a social media policy that regulates the social media and check fake news and misinformation.
But the member representing Amuwo Odofin Federal Constituency of Lagos State, Hon. Emmanuel Egoh Oghene warned against any attempt to shut down the social media in the Country, saying the action will be counter-productive and will lead the youths to believe that there was an attempt to truncate democracy in the Country.
While warning against shutting down the social media space in the country, the lawmaker, said it was wrong to always look at the negative sides of social media at all times without mentioning the good side.
According to him, “Talking about the recent looting of COVID-19 items, in some places they will be looting, but nobody will know. The government will not know and the police will not know. But because of social media, people will be posting as it is happening and the government will be able to go there and save lives.
“There was a time when some boys were digging the road and because of social media, this information came out and the situation was arrested. If there are no social media, that will not happen.
“I want to appeal that this desire to shot down the social media, we should not overdo it because it will harm us. China is not a good example because it is a communist country. Nigeria has always been free, we are a Democratic country.
“Let us look at other democracies and see what they have done with their social media. This technology is already here. It is not going to go away. We should have enough laws in our law books to deal with social media. If people post things that are not correct, they can be taken to court. If the laws are not enough, bring a bill and the National Assembly will pass it into law. If you shot down the social media, democracy will be greatly hampered.”
On his part, the Chairman of the committee, Hon. Odebunmi Olusegun (APC-Oyo) said the Nigerian government should go in search of the technology needed to regulate the social media in the country and be able to work with what is already available in cyberspace.