The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has asked Facebook and other social media platforms to stop allowing the proscribed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) to use their platforms to incite violence and instigate ethnic hatred.
The Minister, who made the appeal, yesterday, in Abuja during a meeting with a team from Facebook, noted that the actions of the proscribed group have real-life implications, adding that by purveying hate and inciting violence, people are getting killed while private and public property are being attacked and destroyed, with security agencies and other symbols of government as their choice targets.”
Nnamdi Kanu, IPOB’s leader, is standing trial on charges that include terrorism and broadcasting falsehoods. A judge will decide today on whether Kanu should be granted bail.
Mohammed argued that since IPOB had been proscribed and classified as a terrorist organisation, Facebook has no justification for yielding its platform to the group to further its campaign of hate and destabilisation of the country.
He said the government has no intention of preventing Nigerians from using social media but is advocating responsible use.
Nigeria lifted a six months ban on Twitter in January after the social media company removed a post from President Muhammadu Buhari that threatened to punish regional secessionists. Telecoms companies subsequently blocked access to users in Nigeria.
The Minister stated that 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.
He said: “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.
“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. 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 to reach their followers. They tag those opposed to their violent ways as ‘saboteurs’ who must be attacked, maimed and killed,” he added.
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.