OBIORA IFOH, Abuja
The Federal Government has lamented the increasing record of fake news in Nigeria as such development is becoming a threat to democracy.
Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, while launching the National Campaign Against Fake News in Abuja said fake news is an epidemic sweeping the world and if left unchecked, it
could be worse than all the plagues that the world has recorded put together.
He said “It is a clear and present danger to global peace and security. It is a threat to democracy. It is the epidemic of Fake News. Mixed with hate speech, it is a disaster waiting to happen.
“For the media, the epidemic is even worse. This is because fake news, in most cases designed to misinform, undermines confidence in the media. And once the people lose confidence in the media, the society is in trouble.
“Right here in Nigeria, the situation is not better. And it is not restricted to the social media. Last Thursday, the front page headline of a national newspaper was: Court orders National Assembly to begin impeachment of Buhari. The problem with that news item is that it is fake news. According to the certified true copy of the order, the Presiding Judge of the Federal High Court in Osogbo ordered and I quote: ”The applicants are hereby granted leave to issue and bring
an Application for the order of Mandamus to compel 1st to 3rd Respondents to start impeachment proceedings against the 4th Respondent, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.” This was manipulated to read that the court has given the go-ahead for the National Assembly to commence impeachment proceedings against the President. Fake News!”
The minister also cited a newspaper report that said an INEC investigation has revealed that pictorial depictions of childhood voters during the February 10, 2018 local government elections in Kano State represented a ‘‘clear manipulation of images to create a fake story”.
“Of course, you are all aware of a recent report by the BBC, that fake news circulating in the social media is fuelling the farmers-herders crises in Nigeria. Gory pictures from other lands are circulated freely via Facebook, WhatsApp and Twitter, purportedly being from the killings in Jos or Benue. In 2017, a fake report circulated on the social media claimed that five students of the College of Education, Gidan Waya, were ambushed and killed by Fulani herdsmen in southern Kaduna. That report turned out to be false. No student was killed. I can go on and on.
“In a multi-ethnic and multi-religious country like ours, fake news is a time bomb. And in recent weeks, many anarchists have been doing everything possible to detonate the bomb. But for the prudence and vigilance of Nigerians, they – the religious and ethnic bigots
among us – would have set the nation on fire, especially over the farmers-herders clashes as well as communal clashes.”
In achieving it’s purpose, the Minister said they do not intend to resort to coercion or censorship in this campaign. “But we want to appeal to all Nigerians to play their active part. Before sharing that information on Facebook, Twitter or WhatsApp, do two things: one, Ask how credible the source is, and two, Don’t share any information for which you can’t vouch. These simple measures may not end fake news, but they will go a long way in stemming its spread.”
.For a better society