Press freedom not license to spread fake news, Minister says

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By Collins Yakubu-Hammer

Alhaji Mohammed Idris, the Minister of Information and National Orientation, says press freedom is not a license for practitioners to spread fake news, misinformation and disinformation.

Idris stated this on Friday in Abuja while responding to questions from Journalists at the joint Ministerial Press Briefing in celebration of the World Press Freedom Day (WPFD).

Idris explained that the safety of Journalists is a global challenge and not peculiar to Nigeria.

He stressed that the press in Nigeria was largely free.

“The fact that the press briefing is holding in an amicable atmosphere is a testimony to that fact.

“I can tell you that there is no Journalist in the life of this administration that has been killed, jailed or sent on exile.

“You may want to refer to some incidences that happened in the past, not in this administration, but we have also worked to address them in a way that is also responsible.

“There is no way you can take away responsibility in journalism. Your freedom to express yourself ends where another person’s freedom begins.

“If you spread falsehood, misinformation, disinformation and fake news, there is no way it can be called press freedom. Press freedom is not the same thing as spreading falsehood and misinformation.

“I had earlier talked about patriotism, responsible journalism and love for nation. It is our responsibility to ensure that this country is safe, united and peaceful.

“Always have it at the back of your mind that you are reporting so that the society can learn. So, responsible journalism not only enables you to report factually, honestly and transparently, but also challenges you to maintain the integrity and sanctity of your own country,” Idris said.

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The minister explained that a journalist should not tear his country apart “just because he wants to talk about press freedom”.

He said the administration of Tinubu had consistently advocated for direct foreign investments into the country.

“You cannot have your newspapers and radio stations flashing insecurity all the time. You cannot be flashing unpalatable things about your country and expect other people to come and invest in same country.

“I can tell you that once you report factually, honestly and transparently, nobody will invite you to come amd answer questions.

“In Nigeria, the press is largely free, but that freedom would further be consolidated if honesty and transparency is upheld in the manner that we report,” Idris declared. (NAN) (www.nannews.ng)

Edited by Ephraim Sheyin

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