Governor Nasir El-Rufai of Kaduna State has called for the enactment of a legal framework to ensure the expeditious prosecution of purveyors of fake news and hate speech, while commending the Minister of Information and Culture for being in the vanguard of the fight against the twin evils.
The Governor made the remarks in Kaduna on Thursday when he received the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, on a courtesy visit, on the sidelines of the 47th National Council on Information, with the theme “TACKLING FAKE NEWS AND HATE SPEECH TO ENHANCE PEACE AND NATIONAL UNITY”.
He said because of the challenges posed by fake news and hate speech, the Kaduna State Government is establishing a legal framework, beyond the Penal Code, that recognizes the peculiarities of spreading fake news and hate speech with the use of technology.
“We have fundamental problems Your Excellency. First, we need to give state governments and state high courts the jurisdiction to try this because the Federal Government cannot do it alone.
“What we are thinking of doing in Kaduna State is to enact our own legislation against fake news and so on. Right now we have enough in the Penal Code to try people that do that but we need a stronger framework that recognizes the technologies and the processes that are used now more than ever,” he said.
Mallam El-Rufai commended the NCI for adopting the menace of fake news as its theme and recommended that State Governments should be given broader jurisdiction to try offenders, thus putting the states at the forefront of the campaign against fake news and hate speech.
The Governor, who commended the Minister of Information and Culture for launching the National Campaign Against Fake News, urged state governments to emulate the campaign.
“This is a very important issue that you are discussing, Honourable Minister, and I think the programme you launched against fake news in all the Federal Government media is quite commendable and should be sustained.
”But beyond that, what we found here in Kaduna State is that the Cyber Crime Act, which is the one that provides a framework for prosecuting people that use Social Media to proliferate fake news, vests jurisdiction in the Federal High Court, so we cannot easily and quickly prosecute those involved, so we have to rely on the Penal Code,” he said.
In his remarks, the Minister said fake news has become the most potent weapon in the arsenal of the political opposition, in view of their inability to take on the Administration because of its great achievements in all spheres.
“Your Excellency, you would have noticed in recent times that fake news has been on the increase and this is very simple, because the opposition cannot debate the federal government on issues. We challenge the opposition to debate us on the achievements we have made in agriculture, security, economy or in fighting corruption, but they could not do that. Rather, they have found out that their most potent weapon is fake news and hate speech.
“We have it on good authority that the opposition has engaged consultants from other parts of the world, whose only duty is to churn out fake news at intervals and confuse the gullible,” he said.
Alhaji Mohammed, however, said that despite resorting to the use of fake news and hate speech, the opposition’s campaign is not gaining traction because Nigerians have seen through their lies ahead of next year’s elections.