Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the Minister of Information and Culture, has denied an online media claim that he “sneaked out of Nigeria to meet with a Twitter executive” in the United States.
The minister said his official tour to the United States had nothing to do with the microblogging and social networking platform in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Washington on Wednesday.
Mohammed said he was in the United States to speak with international media organizations and think tanks about President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration’s accomplishments and efforts to date in combating insurgency, banditry, and all forms of criminality.
He claimed that the internet article exemplified the dangers that fake news and unregulated social media pose to 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 the 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 traveller of the airline.
“I boarded and passed through the checks by the Immigration Service and Customs.
“How can you come and 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 its danger, we need to take it seriously and I am happy that the entire world has now seen 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 reaffirmed that the Federal Government halted Twitter operations in the country not because the President’s post was deleted, but because it was widely circulated in the media.
He said that the microblogging platform’s activity had been halted due to its continued use of its platform for actions that threatened Nigeria’s corporate existence.
He also stressed the importance of the organization registering as a corporate entity and obtaining a license from the National Broadcasting Commission in order to conduct its operations.
The conversation between Twitter and the Federal Government on how to fix the ban problem had progressed, according to Mohammed.
He specifically stated that the conclusion of the ban’s amicable settlement was near.