The Federal Government has urged Nigerians to be extra vigilant in view of the worsening cases of fake news being spread by unscrupulous persons, who are bent on destabilizing the polity and causing disunity among the country’s various ethnic and religious groups.
In a statement issued in Abuja on Sunday, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said over this weekend alone, several major cases of fake news were recorded, each of them capable of causing panic, triggering chaos or setting one group against the other.
He said a gory video of a blast that occurred many years ago is being circulated along with the false news of a bomb blast in Abuja, while news of a non-existent bomb blast in Lagos was also widely circulated, forcing the police to promptly debunk the fake news.
Alhaji Mohammed also said the latest strategy being employed by the purveyors of fake news is to attribute to top government officials improbable statements that are capable of destabilizing the polity, causing tension and threatening the country’s unity.
“This is why we are appealing to Nigerians not to ever engage in a knee-jerk reaction to any news, and to subject every information to a very serious scrutiny by checking with security agencies and government spokespersons,”he said.
The Minister described the fake news phenomenon as ‘the scourge of our times’ which will probably get worse in the months ahead, hence the need for all Nigerians to be very vigilant so that fake news purveyors do not succeed in their quest to sow the seeds of chaos and confusion.
He also appealed to the traditional media, which has a reputation to protect, to join the campaign against the purveyors of fake news, especially because the websites of many reputable media organizations are being parodied and used to spread false information in order to gain some modicum of credibility.
“On our part, we will not relent until we have exposed those who are behind this fake news phenomenon and brought them to justice,”Alhaji Mohammed said.