Cleric: Nigeria needs to regulate access to misguided information on internet

An Islamic scholar and Judge of the Shari’a Court of Appeal, Kwara State, Abdur Raheem Ahmad Sayi, at the weekend, called on the federal government to to regulate access to misguided information on the internet, particularly those capable of fuelling security and religious crises in the country.

The cleric, who observed that the unfettered access to information on internet by Nigerians, especially the youths, said, the “misinformation” on the cyber space has contributed immensely to the present security challenges in the country.

He warned that failure by the government to do the needful might spell doom for the unity of Nigeria.

Justice Sayi made this call in his lecture at the 2012 Special Ramadan Iftar programme, organised by the Ogun State government, held at the Arcade Ground of the Governor’s Office, Oke Mosan, Abeokuta.

The theme of the lecture was “Threats to National Security and Unity: Religion as a Panacea or Problem”.

According to the cleric, internet could be educative, entertaining and informative, but promoters of hate speech and disunity in the country had used it to spread messages of discord and fake news among Nigerians, hence government must find ways to curb the menace before it is too late.

He noted that the country is sitting on a keg of gunpowder, if no efforts were made to check the social malaise, saying “what Nigeria is currently witnessing in terms of insecurity will be a negligible fraction of chaos that will come.

The judge, however, urged leaders of Islam and Christianity in the country to desist from preaching about prosperity alone, but inculcate the core values, tenets and teachings of love and unity of mankind, in the minds of their adherents.

He further charged the religious leaders to use religion as instrument to foster unity and oneness, rather than to promote discrimination, hate and disharmony.

He also urged media practitioners in the country to continue to play a pivotal role in reversing the trend of insecurity, by imbibing and practising responsible journalism, which according to him will go a long way in preserving societal peace and unity of Nigeria.

In his address, the State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, said the special Ramadan Iftar programme was a symbolic one being the very first to be hosted by his administration, after COVID-19 pandemic prevented the state to organise it last year.

He noted that the programme was in appreciation of the fervent prayers, solidarity and support his government has enjoyed from the Muslim community in the last two years.

While describing the theme of the Iftar as apt and instructive, especially when considering recent challenges to security and unity not only in Nigeria, but around the world in general, Abiodun urged the people, irrespective of their religious persuasion to always engage only in acts that promote security, peace and unity of Nigeria

According to the governor, “neither of the two major religions in the country supports banditry, insurgency, kidnapping or rebellion against the State”.

He further noted that “the leaders and followers; government and people, have the responsibility towards the security and unity of our nation. Otherwise, our actions and inactions without responsibility towards one another become threat to national security and unity”.

Highlighting steps taken by his administration to restructure and reinvigorate security mechanism in Ogun, Abiodun said that the Security Trust Fund was reconfigured and made it private sector led, adding “we made huge investments in patrol vehicles and communication equipment for our security agencies in the state and initiated regular meeting of the State Security Council that had been in limbo before the inception of our administration”.

He also said his administration had created initiatives to fully and productively engage the hitherto restive youth via the development of Ogun State Job portal, a database of unemployed or underemployed youths, Anchor Borrowers Scheme and FADAMA GUYS.

“In my inaugural speech about two years ago, I made a commitment that ours is an administration that will observe all elements of good governance – that we will be fair, just, equitable, open, transparent, accountable, inclusive and obey the Rule of Law. Two years down the line, I am proud that even our worst critics will readily admit that we are a promise keeping administration with manifest delivery of electoral promises across the state.

It is also generally acknowledged that we have been even-handed in our dealings with all parts of the state and the strata, regardless of religious belief, political persuasions and ethnic affiliations.

“Again, I reiterate that I may have been elected on the platform of a great party, All Progressives Congress (APC, of the Christian faith and from a part of our state, I am and will continue to act as Governor of all good people of Ogun State. This is an element of the tripartite covenant between me and God on one hand, and between me and good people of Ogun State who have entrusted me with the mandate.

“Let me, in particular, reiterate, here, that all abandoned projects that have direct bearing to the economic prosperity of our people will be completed. We are also aware that when we complete the projects some people would claim that those projects were not initiated by our administration. But, the fact remains that we intentionally complete the inherited projects because, if we do not, they would decay or become a waste of the commonwealth of the people of Ogun State. As an administration, we will never let the commonwealth of the people rot away or go to waste. As we complete the inherited projects, we are also initiating and completing our own projects, in furtherance of the Building our Future Together Agenda in our dear state”. Abiodun stated.

The governor, however, enjoined the Muslim faithful to take full advantage of the Holy Month, particularly the last ten days, to harvest the bountiful divine benevolence, seek forgiveness and pray for security and unity of the country.

“We must use this period to double our efforts in our obligations to our Creator and our responsibilities to fellow men and women. As an administration, hosting of the Ramadan Iftar will be sustained not only to ensure peace, security and unity, but towards the development of our dear state and to constantly remind ourselves of the Social and Spiritual Contract we owe the people to fulfil”, he submitted.

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