Despite claims of limitations to freedom of speech, President Muhammadu Buhari’s media aide, Garba Shehu, has said that the present administration has great respect for freedom of speech.
The Senior Special Assistant, Media and Publicity to the President said this while speaking on a political programme on Channels Television, Sunday Politics.
Shehu assured the public that there is no danger to free speech in the country.
He however said that some people use these platforms to promote hate speech and lies and that the government is entitled to take action to prevent such abuses.
Shehu said, “I assure you that Free speech is not in any danger in this country. President Buhari has shown the best respect for freedom of the press and expression in the country. But there are people who use these platforms to promote hate speech and promote lies.
So if anybody concerned with Nigeria thinks that the interest of our country has been harmed, I think they are entitled to action.”
Still speaking on the interview, Shehu gave credit to Facebook for their efforts in flagging fake news on its platform.
“And I must say we have seen responsibility on the part of Facebook. Facebook has been diligently pulled where fake news and falsehood were pulled. They pulled them.”
Garba Shehu’s claims of the administration’s excellent performance to free speech appears to contrast reports of a more restrictive society.
In its 2020 World Press Freedom Index, the Reporters Without Borders (RSF) ranks Nigeria 115 out of 180. The report of the RSF also described Nigeria as one of West Africa’s “most dangerous and difficult countries for journalists”.
Also, following the recent EndSARS protest, three television stations were fined by the National Broadcasting Code (NBC) for ‘the use of unverifiable online video footages on the social media’ and more people in the government have called for the censorship of the social media space.
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