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Steve Ayorinde to Nigerians: There’s no need to panic about social media regulation

Steve Ayorinde, former Lagos commissioner for tourism, says people who are against the regulation of social media do not want to be held accountable for their actions online.

Ayorinde spoke on Wednesday at a photo exhibition organised to mark the 50th anniversary of Punch newspapers.

Punch is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a week-long activity which started on February 24.

Ayorinde, who is the curator of the photo exhibition at the event, said Nigerians must stop panicking about the regulation of social media.

He added that “nothing wrong with regulation” if it “does not trample upon human rights and free speech”.

The former Lagos commissioner added that Nigerians from every aspect of life must be represented at the regulation’s drafting stage to ensure “the law does not trample on free speech and verifiable, credible information”.

“There is nothing wrong with regulation if the regulation does not trample upon human rights and free speech,” Ayorinde said.

“I do not think we should begin panicking when we hear the word ‘regulation’. It is simply about law, and what we must do is that when the law is being codified, there must be enough representation of people across walks of life to ensure that the law does not trample on free speech and verifiable, credible information.

“But those who say they do not want regulations are not journalists. They are not people who want to be held accountable.

“You cannot destroy people’s lives and malign them unjustly and say because you have a phone in your hand, then you should be allowed.

“They must be standard. There must be checks and balances. Regulation is not about clamping down on people ditching out information.”

The photo exhibition was held at the Alliance Francaise de Lagos/Mike Adenuga Centre in Lagos and will run till Friday.

The event will showcase 50 snapshots of history published by the Punch newspaper over the years.

The anniversary celebration continues with a lecture by Wole Soyinka, Nobel laureate, on Thursday.

Pictures from the exhibition: