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We won’t allow reckless use of social media, says FG

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Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, says the Federal Government will not allow “reckless use” of social media to cause crisis in the country.

Speaking at a meeting with title editors of newspapers on Friday in Lagos, Mohammed, who lamented the influence of fake news during the #EndSARS protests, said the government would seek ways to ensure responsible use of social media, but said there were no attempts to ban its use.

NewsTrends reports that the government has repeatedly said the social media had allowed the #EndSARS protests to fester, leading its hijack by hoodlums and eventual attacks on police stations across the country in October.

The hoodlums also unleashed mayhem in many cities causing death of innocent people, burning and massively looting government and private property across the country.

The minister said, “Our fears about the abuse of social media, and specifically the dangers posed by fake news and disinformation, have come to pass. During the protest and the subsequent violence, fake news and disinformation were the order of the day.

“Social media was used for mobilisation, and it was also used to guide arsonists and looters to properties, both public and private, which were targeted for attack.

“Celebrities who were listed as killed at Lekki quickly dispelled the report of their deaths. Discerning Nigerians exposed the fact that pictures of some non-Nigerians were used to justify the hoax massacre at the Lekki Toll Gate.

“This development has strengthened our resolve to work with stakeholders to stop the abuse of social media. It has also rekindled the debate on the need to regulate social media content, a debate that is not limited to Nigeria.

“On our part, we will not sit down and allow a reckless use of social media to aggravate our fault lines and throw the country into turmoil. But in curbing the excesses of social media, rest assured, gentlemen, that we will neither shut down the internet nor stifle press freedom or free speech, as some have insinuated. We also acknowledge that social media is here to stay.”

The minister claimed that there was more attention on what he described as the “fake massacre” at Lekki tollgate, while attacks on security personnel were ignored.

“Still on the coverage, gentlemen, less attention was paid to the barbaric and gruesome murder of security agents by hoodlums during the crisis. While everyone was fixated on the fake massacre at Lekki Toll Gate, few paid attention to the way and manner policemen and soldiers were killed,” Mohammed said.

“Also, 196 policemen were injured; 164 police vehicles were destroyed and 134 police stations burnt down. In addition, the violence left 57 civilians dead, 269 private/corporate facilities burnt/looted/vandalised, 243 government facilities burnt/vandalised and 81 government warehouses looted.”

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JUST IN: Old naira: IMF asks FG, CBN to extend February 10 deadline

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The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has called for the extension of the February 10 deadline to phase out the old naira notes.

The International monetary body made the call just after the Supreme Court had restrained the Federal Government and Central Bank of Nigeria(CBN) from enforcing the deadline.

The IMF, in a statement in Abuja on Wednesday by Laraba Bonet, said the plea was on the hardship Nigerians were exposed to over the issue.

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It said: “in light of hardships caused by disruptions to trade and payments due to the shortage of new bank notes available to the public, in spite of measures introduced by the CBN to mitigate the challenges in the banknote swap process, the IMF encourages the CBN to consider extending the deadline should problems persist  in the next few days leading up to the February 10, 2023 deadline”.

The IMF is the first international financial organisation to openly call for extension of the deadline for the deposit of old Naira notes.

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Cash crunch: Protesters defy police in Abeokuta, make bonfires on major roads

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Residents of Abeokuta, Ogun State, took to the streets on Tuesday protesting the scarcity of cash and the attendant pains.

Major streets affected by the protests are Aladesanmi, Fajol and Somorin in Obantoko area of Abeokuta as the protesters made bonfires and chanted anti-CBN songs
The Sapon branch of First Bank was also vandalised and the protesters tried to set it ablaze.
Ogun Police spokesman, Abimbola Oyeyemi, confirmed the protest, saying police officers were on the ground to monitor the situation and prevent the destruction of property and loss of lives.
He said some group of boys were involved in the crisis.
The police later came to disperse the protesters but they regrouped as soon as the operatives withdrew from the scene.
The situation affected vehicular movement as motorists and pedestrians ran in different directions to avert being caught up in the chaotic situation.

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Court frees Diezani associate Omokore of $1.6bn fraud

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An Abuja federal high court on Tuesday discharged and acquitted Jide Omokore, chairman of Atlantic Energy Drilling Concepts Nigeria Limited, of $1.6bn fraud allegations.

Omokore, an associate of former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, was arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) with Victor Briggs, Abiye Membere, and David Mbanefo on a 15-count charge on July 4, 2016.

They were accused of fraudulently diverting the $1.6bn said to be part of proceeds of sales of petroleum products belonging to the Federal Government.

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