Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, says the challenges of insecurity in the country are being aggravated by detractors using fake news and disinformation.
The minister, who stated this at a news conference on Thursday in Abuja, conceded that the country was facing the challenge of insecurity which the government had been tackling head on.
“We have security challenges and we are tackling them head on. There is no question about that.
“But the challenges are being aggravated by fake news and disinformation, in particular.
“Those behind this campaign of fake news and disinformation have also deployed new tactics, top of which is the recycling of old news items and videos.
“A good example is the video of the over 400 young men suspected to be Boko Haram members who were intercepted in Abia State in 2014.
“About two weeks ago, the video came back into circulation, creating panic in the polity.
“Their intention is simple: to create tension and panic in the country, “ he said.
Mohammed sad the recent spike in the dissemination of fake news and the use of disinformation was not accidental.
He said fake news, disinformation and hate speech have become the weapons of choice to create tension in the polity and destabilise the country.
” Those behind it, the naysayers, are not about to relent. For some people, the 2019 elections are not over.
“They are stuck in the pre-election mode. And they must continue to use these weapons to put Nigeria on edge,” he said.
The minister gave recent instances of fake news to include the trended stories that President Muhammadu Buhari would be travelling to the UK for 20 days before proceeding to Saudi Arabia and Austria.
He also identified the unconfirmed report that the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, was attacked at the Rigasa train station in Kaduna as well as the fake news that the Nigerian Air Force killed 250 Boko Haram insurgents.
Mohammed said the news that the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy was planning to unveil some new ‘communication regulations’ aimed at recording all calls, monitoring Whatsapp, Twitter and Facebook among others was fake.
He said private individuals had also been victims of this scourge
“We will continue to appeal to Nigerians to be circumspect in believing or circulating these fake news as we did when we launched our national campaign against fake news in 2018.
“We are also pushing ahead with our plan to sanitise the social media, working with stakeholders.
“By March 2nd 2020, we will inaugurate the stakeholders committee that will deliberate and recommend the way forward.
“We are also planning a major international conference that will bring together the tech companies, media practitioners, policy makers and others as part of efforts to tackle this growing canker-worm,” he said.
The minister said he recently met with representatives of Google and Facebook for the same purpose.
He said the situation was dire, adding that no nation that values its peace, security and stability would allow an irresponsible use of the social media.