The Federal Government and Google are collaborating to curb the excesses of subversive YouTube channels which are used to spread hate and disinformation against the country.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who stated this when a team from Google visited him in Abuja on Thursday, expressed delight that both the Federal Government and Google shared the same concern on the responsible use of Social Media.
“We want Google to look into how to tackle the use of private and unlisted YouTube channels and YouTube livestreams by proscribed groups and terrorist organizations. Channels and emails containing names of proscribed groups and their affiliates should not be allowed on Google platforms,” he said.
Alhaji Mohammed, who noted that Google is a platform of choice for IPOB, a proscribed terrorist group, implored the tech giant to deny IPOB the use of its platform for its acts of violence and destabilization.
He said Nigerians are among the most vibrant social media users in the world, with over 100 million Internet users in the country, and that internet platforms such as Google, Facebook, TikTok, Twitter and WhatsApp enable Nigerians to interact, share ideas, earn a living and participate in social and political affairs.
The Minister however observed that those platforms are also used by unscrupulous persons or groups for subversive and nefarious activities.
Alhaji Mohammed said the Federal Nigerian Government recently proposed a “Code of Practice for Interactive Computer Service Platforms/ Internet Intermediaries” in an attempt to provide a framework for collaboratively protecting Nigerian users of Internet platforms.
“This code couldn’t have come at a better time, as the country prepares for general elections next year. We are committed to working with platforms like yours as well as the civil society, lawyers, media practitioners and other relevant stakeholders to ensure a responsible use of the Internet and to protect our people from the harmful effects of social media,” he said.
In his remarks, Google Regional Director, Sub-Saharan Africa, Government Affairs and Public Policy, Mr. Charles Murito, said the platform has introduced a programme called “Trusted Flaggers” for citizens trained to track and engage with online contents in order to flag contents of serious concern.
“As I mentioned earlier, we share the same sentiments, we share the same goals and objectives and we do not want our platform to be used for ill purposes,” he said.
On his part, Google Government Affairs and Public Policy Manager, Mr. Adewolu Adene, said “Equiano”, a subsea cable which recently berthed in Nigeria from Portugal, is aimed at enhancing connectivity and access to the internet as well as to drive down the cost of data, in order to create jobs and facilitate the transfer of knowledge.
He said through the Google News Initiative Challenge, 30 media platforms, with 5 from Nigeria, including the Dubawa fact-checking platform, would be awarded a $3.2 million grant in recognition of their innovative work in information dissemination.
Mr. Adene also pledged the readiness of Google to work with the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture to digitize the recently-repatriated artifacts in order to preserve and market them to a global audience through Google Arts and Culture.
• Governor Receives Information Minister, Lai Mohammed
Lagos State, in November, will literally become the global epicentre for culture and tourism exhibitions, as Nigeria hosts the maiden United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Global Conference on Tourism, Culture and the Creative Industries.
Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu promised the State would be extending its warmest hospitality to visitors that will be attending the event across the world while giving assurance of Lagos’ readiness to collaborate with the Federal Government to use the event to create lasting positive impression for the country.
The Governor made the pledge, on Thursday, when he received the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, on a courtesy visit at the State House in Marina.
The UNWTO global conference will hold at the National Arts Theatre in Iganmu, Lagos, between November 14 and 16, 2022.
Being The Text of the Press Conference Addressed by The Hon. Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, in Abuja on Monday, January 25th 2021.
Gentlemen of the press, good afternoon. Since this is our first meeting this year, it is appropriate to wish you all a happy and prosperous new year. We thank you for always honouring our invitation, and we look forward to a more mutually-rewarding working relationship in this 2021.
2.As you may recollect, Mr. President – in his new year address to the nation – promised that the security apparatus and personnel of the armed forces and the police will be re-energized and reorganized, with a view to enhancing their capacity to engage, push back and dismantle the operations of both internal and external extremist and criminal groups waging war against our communities in some parts of the country.
3.Noting that the Administration is fully aware of its responsibility to protect the lives and property of all Nigerians, Mr. President also said the government will not relent in learning and adapting to changing threats to our national security and civic wellbeing. 4.We have decided to kick start our regular media briefings this year with the issue of security, which is one of the three major priority areas of this administration – the others being the economy and the fight against corruption. In the words of Mr. President, insecurity as a challenge has direct repercussions on our national economic stability, growth, and development.
5.Gentlemen, I can tell you today that the armed forces, the police and other security and intelligence agencies are ramping up their efforts to enhance security of lives and property across the country, and the results are beginning to show. Therefore, we will be highlighting, at this press conference, the recent successes recorded by the Armed forces and other security and intelligence agencies in the fight against terrorists, bandits and other criminals. Since the security agencies take the bashing at the slightest occasional security reversals, they also deserve our commendation and support when they live up to their billing, as they are doing presently.
6.Since the beginning of this year, which is barely three weeks old, the Armed Forces of Nigeria have neutralized 158 criminal elements across the country. This is in addition to scores of other terrorists and armed bandits killed during air strikes. Some 52 criminal elements were arrested, with scores of arms, ammunition and equipment recovered. Troops have also rescued a total of 17 kidnapped victims across the country. In addition, a total of 684,856 barrels of stolen crude oil, 1,724,000 litres of stolen Automotive Gas Oil (AGO) and 500,000 litres of Dual Purpose Kerosene (DPK) have been recovered. Furthermore, a total of 1,184 of 25kg bags of Yaraliva Nitrabor Fertilizer were impounded by the troops of the Armed Forces of Nigeria. Please note that in addition to the numbers of neutralized criminal elements quoted above, many others were incapacitated and their camps destroyed.
7.Gentlemen, the successes being recorded by the security and intelligence agencies in fighting insecurity did not come cheap. They have come as a result of the unrelenting efforts and sacrifices of the gallant officers and men of the military as well as other security and intelligence agencies that conduct operations across the country. Even though some of the troops paid the supreme price in the course of the operations, the security and intelligence forces have consistently exhibited gallantry and resilience in the various operations. We owe them a debt of gratitude.
8.Let us now look at the successes achieved by the security and intelligence agencies according to the different geo-political zones.
9.In the North-West, 118 armed bandits were killed in action and a total of 11 kidnapped victims were rescued since the beginning of the year. During the same period, a cumulative total of 358 livestock and 5 assorted rifles were recovered from the armed bandits by the gallant troops in the zone. In the same vein, a total of 11 arrests were made, and those arrested include high profile armed bandits, gun runners and bandits’ collaborators.
10. In the North-East, within the period under review, 30 terrorists, including some of their commanders, were killed by troops, apart from the scores who were killed by air raids/attacks. Several gun trucks were captured in addition to the 13 recently captured at Marte in Borno State, while some others were destroyed by the gallant troops. Also, a total of 13 assorted rifles and 2 Anti-Aircraft guns were recovered from Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorists, in addition, several arrests were made – including high value targets – within the period. Now, during the past week alone, five Boko Haram/ISWAP terrorists were eliminated by troops as they attempted to overrun Abbagajiri and Dusula towns in Damboa Local Government Area of Borno. The troops, from the 402 Special Forces Task Force Brigade, had on Wednesday encircled some terrorists’ enclaves at Abbagajiri and inflicted heavy casualties on them. Apart from the 5 who were killed, many other terrorists escaped with gunshot wounds, while the troops also captured several guns and some Improvised Explosive Device (IED)-making materials, among others.
11. In the North-Central, within the period, troops of Operations SAFE HAVEN, WHIRL STROKE and THUNDER STRIKE have also achieved appreciable successes. A total of 6 kidnapped victims were rescued, while 5 armed bandits, including militia gang leaders, were killed in action. Equally, 11 armed bandits were arrested in the zone. Only on Saturday, the Air Component of Operation THUNDER STRIKE neutralized several armed bandits at Chikwale Forest in the Mangoro area of Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna State. The operation followed credible intelligence reports indicating the significant presence of armed bandits in the area, which is about 20Km West of the Kaduna-Abuja Highway.
12. In the South-South, troops of Operation DELTA SAFE conducted anti-crude-oil theft and illegal-oil-bunkering operations, in addition to anti-illegal-maritime activities. In the course of their operational activities, 24 illegal refining sites, 11 wooden boats, 142 metal tanks, 17 dugout pits and 45 ovens were destroyed. Also, 30 suspects were arrested while 14 pumping machines, 13 speed boats and 13 outboard engines were recovered. Additionally, a total of 684,856 barrels of stolen crude oil and 1,724,000 litres of illegally refined Automotive Gas Oil (AGO) as well as 500,000 litres of Dual Purpose Kerosene (DPK) were recovered. Furthermore, a total of 1,184 of 25kg bags of Yaraliva Nitrabor Fertilizer suspected to have been smuggled from the Republic of Cameroon were impounded.
Similarly, in the South-West, troops of Operation AWATSE destroyed several illegal refining sites and arrested 8 boats engaged in illegal activities.
14. Gentlemen, please note that in addition to the kinetic military operations, which led to the successes enumerated above, the Armed Forces of Nigeria routinely carry out non-kinetic operations in form of Civil Military Cooperation Activities (CIMIC), fostering several stakeholders and reconciliation meetings between hostile communities and carrying out medical outreaches in host communities.
15. Finally, there is no denying the successes achieved by the Armed Forces of Nigeria and other security and intelligence agencies within the period in focus, which is from Jan. 1st 2021 to the present, which is just a little over three weeks. There is no doubt that, with this renewed determination and vigour, the security agencies are set to sustain their onslaught against terrorists, bandits and criminal elements in our country, and will not relent until peace has been restored to every troubled part of our dear nation. Mr. President has continued to provide the security agencies with the wherewithal to successfully prosecute their various operations. The security agencies have been discharging their responsibilities creditably. It is now up to us, as citizens, to give our undiluted support to the security agencies, who daily sacrifice to keep us safe.
16. I thank you for your kind attention. I will now take your questions, which must be restricted to the issue of security that we are here to address.
The Acting Commandant General of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), DCG Hillary Madu, has been presented to the Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola by Commissioner in charge of Appointment and Promotion at the Civil Defence Corrections Fire and Immigrations Board (CDCFIB), Alhaji Ado Ja’afaru. Alhaji Ja’afaru is also the Chairman of an Adhoc Committee setup to screen and recommend suitable candidates for the vacant positions according to extant laws.
Speaking during the meeting, Minister of Interior, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola informed the Acting CG Madu that he has made recommendations to President Muhammadu Buhari based on the recommendations of the adhoc committee on the most suitable candidate to replace the outgone CG. Speaking further, the Minister charged the acting CG to “identify low hanging fruits in your interim stay at the helms of affairs of your service. Take actions that will boost the morale of your men. I want to work with you to reshape your Corps so as to make it a reliable and robust assistant to the Nigeria Police.
“You are not the main security provider, but you are a supportive internal security provider. This is not meant to be derogatory, however, it is to sharpen the way you perform your duty and play your role in a way that will enhance internal security in the country.
The minister also reminded him of the central role of the NSCDC in agro-protection, saying: “Albeit, you are a main and front-liner in agro-security provision, so you must be conscious of that fact. You have to protect our farming communities and farmers, be it small, medium or largescale farmers to guarantee food security for the country” Aregbesola informed the Acting CG.
Aregbesola continued, “the prevalence of deadly fire incidence which is usually a fallout of lack of adequate protection or weakness in the protection of the pipelines must equally be focused on. I want you to develop a strategy that will eliminate the destruction of our pipelines which usually lead to these deadly fire incidents.”
The presentation of the Acting CG to the Minister followed the submission of the report by the adhoc committee on the screening and selection on substantive CG for the Nigeria Correctional Service (NCoS) and NSCDC which was earlier presented to the Minister.
While presenting Acting CG, Commissioner Ado stated that upon the presentation of his committee’s report to the Minister, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola who is also the Chairman of the board, directed the outgoing CGs of the two services under consideration to handover to the most senior officer in their respective service. Whilst outgone CG of the NSCDC handed over to DCG Hillary Madu, CG of the NCoS who had his passing out parade today, handed over reins of affairs in his service to DCG John Mrabure.
Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed; Board Commissioner in charge of Discipline and General Purpose, Major General Emmanuel Bassey (Retired); and Board Secretary, Alhaji Alhassan Yakmut were present at the meeting.
The Federal Government on Monday said no fewer than 1,375 irregular migrants were arrested while the border drill code-named, ”Exercise Swift Response, ” lasted.
The border drill held between August 20, 2019 and December 17, 2020.
Speaking at a news conference in Lagos, Minister of Information and Culture Alhaji Lai Mohammed said the border drill was a huge success.
The minister said the seizures so far during the period included 157,511 – 50kg bags of parboiled foreign rice, 10,447 bags of NPK fertiliser used for making explosives and 18,630 jerry cans of vegetable oil.
The total monetary value of the seized items, according to him, is about N12.362 billion.
The “Exercise Swift Response” was launched as part of efforts to secure the land and maritime borders in the Southsouth, Southwest, Northcentral and Northwest from smuggling and irregular migration.
The exercise coordinated by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) was meant to boost the national economy and strengthen border security.
Officials of the Nigeria Customs Service, the Nigerian Immigration Service, the armed forces of Nigeria as well as the Nigeria Police force and other security and intelligence agencies were involved in the exercise.
The minister said the exercise had saved resources and enhanced national security.
He said: “The importation of drugs and proliferation of small arms, which usually fuel violent extremism and terrorism in the country, have been significantly curtailed.
“For instance, 95 per cent of illicit drugs and weapons that are being used for acts of terrorism and kidnapping in the country comes in through our porous borders. However, since the border drill started, this importation has been drastically reduced.”
Mohammed also said the agricultural sector had received a boost from the drill, with rice production now nearing the level of self-sufficiency for the country while poultry production was at a high level.
He commended security operatives for displaying a high level of professionalism and unflinching commitment to the national assignment.