In this clime, there is this penchant to be indecorous, overtly offensive, insensitive, uncouth and irresponsible when it comes to social media engagements. The average user of social media in Nigeria is a victim or perpetrator of social media abuses, they call it savagery – but I call it stupidity when you turn the platform created for social engagements, business opportunities and political aspirations as offensive tools of damage. Overnight, a platform created for love was turned to the domain of hate, bigotry, and bullying. This is the tragedy of our reality, we are hardly found on the scenes of those who create or invent but we are always the hijackers of these platforms to spew indiscipline, hate and indecorous contents.
If you have a decent and feeble mind and respect your dignity, please don’t go on social media, you will be embarrassed and deflated. Respect your sanity, stay off the Nigeria Social Media Space. The social media space is not for sane minds but mostly uncultured assemblage who are perpetually on the watch-out for who to devour on their highly priced past time. They spare no one in their dosages of acerbic poohpooh. Presidents have been bashed, religious leaders, celebrities are all victims of social media bashing. Former presidential spokesman and chairman of the Guardian newspaper editorial board Rueben Abati once came under the heavy onslaught of social media bashers that he referred to them as ‘children of anger’! Actress Omotola Jalade Ekeinde is currently having her own share of social media bashing by Abati’s Children of Anger following her twitter rant bemoaning the state of insecurity and lack of money in circulation in Nigeria. As we speak, she hasn’t made any social media appearance since then.
The references above are just a few traces of social media bashing, many are not reported perhaps because of their little or unknown status. A social media activist IG Wala was recently slammed a 12-year jail term without an option of fine by a Federal High Court in Abuja. He was alleged to have maligned Abdullahi Mukhtar, Chairman of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON). Justice Jalilu ruled that Wala was guilty of managing an unlawful association, inciting the public and defamation of character on social media.
IG Wala was reported to have made a derogatory Facebook post accusing Mukhtar of corruptly enriching himself with N3billion after the 2017 Hajj. Wala was arrested following a petition written by Mukhtar alleging public defamation of his integrity and the commission he heads. Beautiful as Wala’s guts to ensure corrupt people in government are exposed, he tragically failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Mukhtar “enriched himself with N3billion”.
Now, this is the question, why rush to social media to expose an alleged corruption when you have no evidence to back your claims? Citizen journalism is founded on truth and responsibility, access to a platform is not a license to injure the characters of others just because they are in government. Social media is not a license to social nuisance, we must learn to define the line otherwise we may wake up to the devastating onslaught of cyber terrorism, persecution, and war. Citizen journalism is not a substitute for the law of the land, in the absence of a regulatory framework, self-regulatory options should be our creed.
There is certainly no justification for defamation, there is no doubt that IG Wala was damn unfair to the man he maligned but because we are humans and full of infallibilities, can we collectively rise and beg that justice is tempered with mercy? Let’s forget the pride of IG Wala, let’s think of his family especially his son who is presently on admission all-ill.
Activism is not a license to taking the law into our hands, regardless of our bitterness with the system, we must tread with restraint, decorum, and civility as we engage the authority. Abusing a platform just because of the absence of a regulating law does not define civility but crude and brute manifestation. Social media has become a huge part of our lives. Our lives almost revolve around its usage. On the cyber wave exists our friends, family, leaders, celebrities. We can’t afford to doom our relationships with the negative effects of social media. We must not present ourselves to the world as people not defined by value, discipline and respect.
May nature touch the heart of the law and grant IG Wala a soft landing. Mercifully musing.