The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, says the online media report that he “sneaked out of Nigeria to meet with Twitter executives’’ in the U.S, is fake.
In an interview with the Newsmen in Washington on Wednesday, the Minister said his official visit to the U.S. has nothing to do with the microblogging and social networking platform.
Mohammed said he was in the U.S. to meet with international media organizations and think tanks on the achievements of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration and efforts made so far in tackling insurgency, banditry and all forms of criminality.
He said the online report was an example of the danger fake news and unregulated social media portend for the country.
“Can a Minister sneak out of Nigeria without people knowing?
“When you say I sneaked out of Nigeria, are you saying I went to board at a terminal where nobody is or I travel to Republic of Benin to fly out of the Country.
“I was at an international airport, where I presented myself openly and I was checked in, at the counter like every other traveler of the airline.
“I boarded and passed through the checks by the Immigration service and Customs.
“How can you say I sneaked out of the country?’’.
The Minister, who had so far engaged with the BBC Radio and TV, Bloomberg and Polico during his visit to Washington DC, said he had no mission with Twitter on his trip.
“You and I have been here, have I met with any twitter official?
“When you talk about fake news and it’s danger, we need to take it seriously and I am happy that the entire world is now seeing what we saw more than two years ago.
“I can assure you that we will not rest until we regulate the social media, otherwise, nobody will survive it,’’ he said.
The Minister reiterated the position that the Federal Government suspended Twitter operation in the country not because it deleted the tweet by the President as being propagated in some sections of the media.
He said the operation of the microblogging medium was suspended because of it’s persistent use of it’s platform for activities that were capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.
He also underscored the need for the organization to register as a business entity and obtain license from the National Broadcasting Commission in order to carry out it’s activities.
He added that the engagement between Twitter and the Federal Government on how to resolve the issue of the ban, had reached an advanced stage.
Specifically, he said the end for the amicable settlement of the ban was in sight.