BY BODE GBADEBO, Abuja
A civil society organisation, Centre For Liberty (CFL), has unveiled what it called ‘Democratic Solutions’ to the twin menace of fake news and hate speech in the country instead of the proposed legislations by the National Assembly.
It said the solutions were cues taken from other democratic countries of the world battling with the challenge of fake news.
At a press conference in Abuja on Wednesday addressed by the group led by co-conveners of CFL, Adebayo Raphael, Deji Adeyanju, Ariyo-Dare Atoye, and CFL assistant project officer, Maryam Ahmed, they insisted that the Social Media and Hate Speech Bills currently in the Senate be withdrawn because they are unfit for a democratic country like Nigeria.
CFL, however, noted that fake news was indeed a problem in the country, adding that there are democratic solutions that Nigeria can create or adopt from other democratic nations around the world, to tackle the problem without violating citizens’ rights to freedom of expression as guaranteed by the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
“On Thursday August 13, 2020, Center for Liberty in collaboration with other human rights organizations, activists and lawyers held a strategy review meeting to review a document titled ‘Democratic Solutions to Fake News In Nigeria.’ The document was presented by Ms Chieme Ogbeyialu Chukwu Esq. – a Democratic Strategy Consultant for Center for Liberty.
“The document emphasizes how we now live in a digital world, surrounded by a deluge of information and how the internet has made the world more connected than ever, thus a threat anywhere is a threat everywhere. Fake news has in recent times raised a lot of concerns about democratic freedoms and the abuse of those freedoms,” it said.
CFL pointed out that Nigeria should learn from countries like the United Kingdom, Turkey, India and Sweden by adopting their democratic and civilized approaches of fighting the problem of fake news rather than resorting to the anti-democratic approach of enacting what it called “tyrannical and draconian laws” that will further shrink the civic spaces.
The group urged the government at all levels to embrace public awareness, setting up of rebuttal units that will use rapid response approach to counter fake news, working alongside social media platforms to help in flagging down fake news, and partnership with CSOs to mount campaigns against the scourge.
“However, the proposed democratic solutions are capable of combating the problem of fake news published on the internet from anywhere in the world. As a democratic country, Nigeria must practice and uphold the tenets of democracy in all its dealings and approaches.
“We, therefore, hope that the highlighted solutions will be seriously considered by our legislators and the federal government, just as we pledge our unflinching resolve to support the government in adopting any or all of the measures highlighted above, in combating the problem of Internet Falsehoods or Online Fake News in Nigeria,” CFL added.