From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Federal Government on Wednesday assured that it has no intention to ban Facebook over the alleged inciting statements by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) using its platform.
The Minister of information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, gave the assurance while fielding questions from State House Correspondents at the end of the Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting, presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Council Chambers, Presidential Villa, Abuja.
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Recall that Mohammed, had at a meeting with a team from Facebook in Abuja on Tuesday, asked the social media platform to prevent IPOB, from using its platform to incite violence.
The Minister had said people had been killed because of the group’s activities.
Responding to a question on whether the Federal Government was contemplating to ban Facebook as it did to Twitter over the alleged inciting violence by IPOB, the minister said, they had a fruitful discussion with the social media platform.
According to him, “I had a very fruitful meeting with Facebook yesterday (Tuesday). At that meeting, we expressed our displeasure that Facebook was becoming a power of choice for those who stay outside Nigeria, in particular, to incite violence, killings, burning of government properties, killing of soldiers and policemen.
“And that they should do more than what they are doing now in looking at the contents, which are unwholesome, which are being used on their platforms.
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“Incidentally, the BBC did a documentary on this particular issue and found out that some of them who call themselves social media warriors in England, France and other places, have in recent times, been using the Facebook platform to incite violence in Nigeria. And we’ve all seen the real-life impact of those warmongering, the young couple who are going to marry, soldiers who were gruesomely murdered.
“Over this weekend in Anambra state policemen were killed, military barracks were attacked. And we did warn Facebook to please do more than what they are doing now. And I must say that their response was quite encouraging. They said you’re going to do much more.”
Asked whether there is any plan to ban Facebook if the inciting violence continues, he said, “I think I gave you an answer. We had a very robust discussion with Facebook. Facebook saw our point and they said they’re going to do much more than what they are doing. So if they do that, why would we ban them?
“We don’t ban for banning sake. We ban or we only suspend operations if for any reason, lives are threatened and they do not listen. But this is of engagement.”
Recall that the federal government had on June 5, 2021, put an indefinite ban on Twitter restricting it from operating in Nigeria after the social media platform deleted tweets made by the Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari warning the people of the South East part of the country, of a potential repeat of the 1967 Biafran civil war due to the security crisis on that rejoin.
The ban was lifted on January 13, seven months after the suspension of Twitter operations after it agreed to set “a legal entity in Nigeria during the first quarter of 2022.” The establishment of Twitter’s legal entity, according to the government, was the social media giant’s “first step in demonstrating its long-term commitment to Nigeria.”