The Department of State Security (DSS) and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) have canvassed for new legislation to curtail the spread of fake news and ensure peaceful coexistence in the country.
The DSS Spokesperson, Dr. Peter Afunanya and the INEC National Commissioner in a change of Media and Publicity, Mr. Festus Okoye canvassed for this at the disinformation and misinformation Seminar organised by Centre for Democracy and Development, CDD, in Abuja.
While justifying the need for the fresh legislation against fake news in the country, Afunaya said: “why don’t’ we begin to look at the issue of legislation.
” In Japan and other countries today, there is a common agreement by convention and legislation that forbid their media from promoting subversive narratives because terrorists feed on publicity. Once you cut the oxygen of publicity, they become disinterested in their actions.”
Dr Afunaya insisted that the DSS was a victim of the fake news syndrome recently when he cited false claim that Ibrahim El Zakzaky, leader of the disbanded Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) and the former National Security Adviser (NSA) to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, Col Sambo Dasuki (rtd) died while in custody of the DSS.
He, however, called for responsible actions from all stakeholders saying that absolute law and absolute privilege don’t exist anywhere except for absolute responsibility.
According to him, “there are rights to demonstrations and protests, yes, but there are no absolute rights. You claim the right to freedom of movements but if there is a lawful curfew, that right of movement is restricted.
“Even rights to life, we do not have the right to take our lives not to talk of others. Understanding all of these will help us to be responsible citizens.”
Speaking in support of the need for legislation for fake news, INEC National Commissioner, Okoye decried the negative impacts of fake news, especially during elections.
According to him, “I join the idea of the past speakers who called for legislation to regulate fake news considering its negative impacts on the peaceful coexistence in the country”.
However, in their submission, the duo of Comrade Idayat Hassan from the CDD and Dr. Garba Abari, Director-General of the National Orientation Agency (NOA) said it would be difficult to gag the social media, but stressed that existing laws on cybersecurity and the penal codes should be well implemented to take care of fake news in the country.