Federal Government to prosecute fake news peddlers

Solomon Chung,Abuja

The Federal Government says that it will expose those behind fake news in the country and bring them to justice.

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 was 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.

He urged Nigerians to be extra vigilant in view of the worsening cases of fake news being spread by ‘unscrupulous persons’, who were bent on destabilizing the polity and causing disunity among the country’s various ethnic and religious groups.

Mohammed also said the latest strategy being employed by the purveyors of fake news was to attribute to top government officials improbable statements that were 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.