REMARKS BY THE HON. MINISTER OF INFORMATION AND CULTURE, ALHAJI LAI MOHAMMED, DURING MEDIA VISIT TO DAILY TRUST ON MONDAY, 21 FEB. 2022
Let me thank the management and staff of Daily Trust for hosting us this morning. I am indeed glad to be here again, my third visit – if I am not mistaken – to Daily Trust, since assuming office. Today’s visit to Daily Trust also kickstarts our 2022 media tour.
2. I want to use this opportunity to congratulate Media Trust Limited on the debut of their TV channel, Trust TV, which is already making waves in the industry. I heard from the grapevine that I will soon be invited to appear on the new TV channel. I await the invitation. May I also congratulate the publishers of Daily Trust Newspaper for their increasing use of infographics to deepen the understanding of complex issues. It is said that a good infographic is worth a thousand words. I urge you to keep up this innovation.
3. Please permit me to reiterate the fact that this Administration continues to regard the media as an indispensable partner, and also believes that a vibrant media is a prerequisite to the success of any democracy. I have always said that Nigeria has one of the most vibrant media ecosystems in the world, and I remain firm in this belief. That is why the brand of adversarial journalism being practiced by a section of the press here in Nigeria, including Daily Trust, does not appear to us a threat. Unpalatable as it may seem sometimes, this
combative or oppositional style is a stark reminder of the watchdog role of the media.
4. Gentlemen, our visit today is coming at a time of great concern across the country over the rising cases of ritual murders by unscrupulous people, most of them very young, who are seeking to get rich at all cost. We have therefore decided to use this opportunity to begin the process of raising national awareness on this scourge. The National Orientation Agency (NOA), an agency under our Ministry, is already partnering with religious and traditional organizations as well as NGOs to forge behavioural change, especially among the youth, some of whom are afflicted by the get-rich-quick syndrome. In the days ahead, the Federal Government plans to launch a national sensitization campaign against ritual murders. Ahead of that, however, we are calling on the media to please lend their strong voices to efforts to stamp out this growing menace. I was delighted to read a newspaper editorial on the scourge of ritual killings yesterday (Sunday). I implore the Daily Trust, and indeed all media organizations, to join the campaign against the scourge.
5. For those who may still be in doubt, ritual killings have assumed a worrisome dimension in recent years. According to an NGO, Foundation for Partnership Initiatives in the Niger Delta (PIND), 150 women and girls were killed for ritual purposes between January 2018 and December 2021. The NGO said the prevailing situation is driven by a growing demand for human body parts for money-making. It added that the trend endangers the safety and security of women and girls.
Recently, in Ogun State, four young men, one of whom is 18 years old, murdered their 20-year-old female friend for money rituals. One of them said they learnt about using human parts for money rituals from social media. Of course, you are also aware of a case involving a female student of the University of Jos who was allegedly killed by her boyfriend for ritual purposes. These killings have been widely reported by the media.
6. The fact that some of these ritualists said they learnt the money-making tricks from some social media platforms has given a further fillip to our campaign to rid social media of unwholesome content. Call it social media regulation or whatever, no serious nation today will allow it’s social media space to be suffused with dangerous content. As we have said many times, we have no intention to stifle the media or constrict the social media space. But we will not relent in our efforts to ensure a responsible use of the social media
7. Many have also blamed Nollywood for featuring money rituals in some of its movies, saying this has negatively influenced the vulnerable youth. To mitigate this, I have directed the National Film and Video Censors Board, the body set up to regulate the film and video industry in Nigeria, to take this issue into consideration while performing its role of censoring and classifying films and videos. I have also directed NFVCB to engage with stakeholders in the film industry in order to express the concerns of the government and Nigerians on the need to eschew money ritual content in their movies.
Finally, we appeal to religious, traditional and political leaders to be part of efforts to reorientate our youth, in particular, to realize that success comes through hard work, not money rituals.
8. Once again, I want to thank the management and staff of Daily Trust for this warm reception. I will now take your questions