Fake news, misinformation exacerbating insecurity, says Lai Mohammed


The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has said
insecurity in some parts of the country is being exacerbated by fake
news and misinformation.

The Minister made the observation in Abuja on Monday when he
represented President Muhammadu Buhari at the Citizens Summit for
National Integration, Peace and Security, organized by the Nigerian
Institute of Public Relations (NIPR).

“This summit couldn’t have come at a better time, with the issues of
peace, security and national unity on the front burner of our national
discourse. In recent times, in particular, the issues of peace and
security have been on the lips of many Nigerians, against the backdrop
of rampaging terrorists, bandits and kidnappers. This crisis of
insecurity has, unfortunately, been exacerbated by the twin evil of
fake news and misinformation,” he said.

While citing some examples to clearly illustrate how fake news is
fueling apprehension and anxiety in the country, Mohammed said
on August 10th this year, the Kaduna State Government had to debunk an
online report claiming that hundreds of bandits had laid a siege on
the Kaduna-Zaria road.

He said the widely-circulated fake news even advised travellers not to
enter or leave Zaria due to the presence of bandits at Dumbi and Jaji
along the Zaria road, adding: “Imagine the apprehension and disruption
of plans that this fake news could have caused. Imagine its impact on
the security operatives who are doing everything, including paying the
ultimate price, to keep us safe?

“Also, in April 2022, a drone video showing a group of five men wearing red clothes and cooking inside an unknown forest went viral. Those circulating the video claimed that it was somewhere in Nigeria.
But when BBC did a fact-check on the drone video, it discovered that
it was not in Nigeria. The video was circulated just to create panic
among the citizens and put the society on edge.

“In June 2022, there were reports of bandits using a helicopter to
attack residents in four communities in Kajuru Local Government Area
of Kaduna. The Kaduna state government had to debunk the story by
clarifying that the chopper was actually an Air Force helicopter
dispatched to repel an attack in the area. Again, imagine the panic
that would have been triggered by this fake news,” the Minister said

He said he has not been spared by the purveyors of fake news and
misinformation, as countless numbers of fake news have been attributed
to him.

Mohammed said his ministry is addressing the menace through the
National Campaign Against Fake news and Misinformation, a nationwide
advocacy campaign, in addition to working with the various social
media platforms like Facebook and Google to curtail the spread of fake
news and misinformation.

He expressed satisfaction that many CSOs have joined the campaign
against fake news and misinformation, while some newspapers have set
up fact-checking desks to debunk fake news and misinformation.

The Minister commended NIPR for hosting the summit in order to promote
dialogue and national cohesion, especially in view of the myriad of
challenges to unity, peace and security facing the country.


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