This is because the Bayelsa State government has revealed its plans to sponsor a bill seeking punishment for malicious rumour mongering and misinformation of the public to the State House of Assembly.
Governor Seriake Dickson who disclosed this while inaugurating a committee to tackle rumour mongering at the Executive Chambers of Government House, Yenagoa, said that the move has become imperative in view of the ever-increasing rate of rumour mongering and its attendant consequences on individuals and the state in general.
Governor Dickson emphasized that the enactment of such legislation in the state would go a long way in checking the unwholesome practice.
Hon. Dickson observed that the recent spate of rumour mongering in the state was th handiwork of propagandists, who do not mean well for the state and warned that anyone found wanting by the proposed legislation would be punished to serve as a deterrent to others.
“Going forward, we hope to sponsor a legislation that will provide punishment for false dissemination of information and propaganda, either against the reputation of private individuals or about government or its officials. Of course, we are all aware that the existing laws provide for offences such as criminal defamation of character and so on. But we are going to come up with a legislation to punish ‘dem say, dem say’ people.”
Blaming the ugly trend on lack of education, under-development and decline in public ethics, he charged the committee to be on the vanguard of promoting value re-orientation and good governance in the state.
He also mandated the committee to work closely with other relevant government agencies to embark on effective enlightenment campaigns on the policies and programmes of the present administration.
“This committee has a very serious responsibility. I expect you to embark on far -reaching enlightenment programmes not just on government activities but also about the development of positive and right values and attitudes. They need to depart from this pervading feeling of negativity in this state because the people are more interested in negative stories. That is not right and therefore must be checked.”
According to the Governor, the committee will among other responsibilities, serve as a clearing house for members of the public to clear their doubts on issues concerning government and the state.
He enjoined the public to cooperate with the committee by calling on the designated hotlines that would be provided to enable them confirm doubtful issues to avoid unnecessary speculation.
Responding, Chairman of the committee, Chief Boma Spero-Jack , a retired director in States Security Services wondered why people still indulge in rumour mongering in the state in spite of the transparent manner the present administration runs its activities.
According to him, “people who do so are those who have the opportunity to hear from the horse’s mouth but choose to make insinuations that contradict government’s good intentions and policies”.
While expressing gratitude to the Governor for the appointment, the Chairman pledged that the committee would work as a team to achieve set goals for government.
The committee, which has no definite time frame for the completion of its assignment, has Lady Gesiere Dorgu and Dr. John Idumange as Vice Chairman and Secretary.
While Mr Tarinyo Akono, Kola Oredipe, Union Oyadongha, Ekio Benson and Retired Capt. Wisdom Amba Ambaiowei are to serve as members.
Others are, Chairman of RATTAWU, Bayelsa Chapter, Mrs. Vienna Imoukhuede, Mr. Zipamo Akanyo, a representative each of the Clergy, traditional rulers, market women, state security service and the Nigeria Police.