Nigeria Tasks West African Media on Fact-checking

Nigeria Tasks West African Media on Fact-checking

The Nigerian government has charged journalists and media outfits in the West African sub-region to set up fact- checking desks, so as to arrest the prevalence of misinformation, fake news and hate speech in the society.
Nigeria’s Information and Culture Minister, Lai Mohammed disclosed this on Thursday at the occasion of the presentation of the UNESCO World report on freedom of expression at the West Africa Regional on 2021/2022 Report on the Global Trends in Freedom of Expression and Media Development.

In his virtual presentation, Lai Mohammed urged journalists within the West African sub-region to join hands with various governments to curb the activities of unprofessional and unethical journalists who taint the image and good works of those who desire to uphold the ethos and professionalism of the noble profession.

“As we all know, issues surrounding freedom of expression and safety of journalists are topical and dear to democracy.”

The Minister also reiterated that Nigeria has a vibrant, pluralistic and free press, and this would not have been possible without an enabling environment.

Nigeria’s Information and Culture Minister, Lai MohammedThe Minister further appreciated UNESCO for its efforts at promoting an enabling environment for the entrenchment of freedom of expression and the safety of journalists.

“The report being presented today will further provide our leaders, media administrators, practitioners and indeed various stakeholders in the information sector insights into the successes achieved and the multidimensional challenges to freedom of expression and media development, within the context of our various legal frameworks.
“It is a well known fact that freedom of expression is a fundamental human right enshrined in our various statutes and legal mechanisms. And it is also a key feature of democracy across the world. Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights captures this succinctly.

“Over the years, countries have made efforts to liberalise the media landscape by making it conducive for practitioners through adoption of laws in this regard.

“We have also seen the glaring need to protect journalists, as well as build their capacities to conform to the ever-changing standards of practice, especially with emerging technologies and particularly social media. UNESCO has provided leadership in this regard.

“As a country, Nigeria has always championed the observance of rights of freedom of expression and the safety of journalists” the Minister said.

However, he further elaborated that this right that is enjoyed, especially as media practitioners, comes with a huge responsibility.

“A responsibility that says we must be circumspect in the use of information at our disposal to avoid misinformation, fake news and hate speech which, if not well managed, could lead to serious disaffection and chaos in the society.

“In Nigeria, we have made the freedom of expression not just a guiding principle but also a key priority, just like the safety of our media practitioners.”

Alhaji Mohammed concluded his presentation by informing the meeting that Nigeria will be hosting the 2022 Global Media and Information Literacy Week, the first country within the subregion to host such event. He then solicited the support of members.

Emmanuel Ukoh

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