Agence France-Presse

Some media practitioners in Port Harcourt, Rivers, have advocated for penalty against citizens who propagate speech that threatens Nigeria’s unity.

Reacting to the President Muhammadu Buhari’s broadcast on Monday, the newsmen told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that hate speech must be halted now to ensure unity in the country.

The president had in the broadcast expressed worry that some citizens used the social media to disseminate information that questioned Nigeria’s collective existence.

He said that those in such habit had crossed the national red lines by daring to question Nigeria’s collective existence as a nation.

Dr Ibituru Pepple, Director, International Institute of Journalism, Port Harcourt Centre, described anti-unity comments on the social media as “unpatriotic and un-Nigerian’’

“The social media have become places where anybody can post any rubbish; the government needs to ensure that people who use it to unnecessarily question national unity are punished.

“On the social media, ethics of journalism and communication are not observed in most cases, so, what else do we expect?’’ he said.

Chairman, Nigeria Union of Journalists, Rivers chapter, Mr Omoni Ayo-Tamuno, called for measures to ensure that “online rascality’’ was punishable by law.

“As it is, we cannot determine when a comment on the social media has crossed the red line; a framework has to be put in place to streamline all these,’’ he said.

In his view, Mr James Awaji, stated that the attacks on national unity would continue unless people were made to show responsibility while making online comments.

“The way it is today, people hide under pseudonyms to make wicked and unpatriotic statements against the nation; something has to be done to ensure responsibility.’’

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