By Salisu Sani-Idris and Monday Ijeh
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed on Friday described the growing level of fake news and hate speech in the country as a threat to the National Security.
Mohammed stated this when he featured on the NTA flagship programme: ‘Good Morning Nigeria’ entitled, “Combating Damages of Fake News in Nigeria,” monitored by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.
The minister said that fake news whether at the Local Government, National and International levels have potential to threaten the peace, security and the corporate existence of the country.
He recalled that hate speech and fake news contributed largely to the genocide that ravaged Rwanda in 1994, describing fake news as scourge that must be discouraged.
According to him, biggest prank that can consume the world today is fake news and if not curtailed its consequences might be worst than all the crises that the world had witnessed.
He further explained that fake news had the potential to set up one community against the other and one country against another.
“The essence of launching the campaign against fake news on Wednesday is to sensitise Nigerians to understand the dangers posed by fake news because it threatens not just peace and security but it is also a threat to the very corporate existence of a nation.
“In particular, in a country like Nigeria which is a multi-ethnic and religious, fake news and hate speech is time bomb.
“We also launched the campaign to sensitise Nigerians that each and every one of us can play a role in combating the rising level of fake news.
“Fake news is a global issue, it is not just a Nigerian issue but we are more concern about Nigeria because of the potential it has to our corporate existence,” Mohammed said.
He said that the campaign against fake news would be domesticated to the Local Government and Wards levels using the structure of the National Orientation Agency (NOA) in the country.
The minister said that the farmers and herders’ clashes are being fuelled by fake news, adding that the recently released report of BBC revealed that fake news was responsible for the escalation of herdsmen and farmers crisis.
He appealed to all Nigerians to understand the dangers inherent in fake news for national interest, adding that campaign against fake news was a national assignment.
“In 2017, we did drew attention to the phenomenon of fake news, we were so concerned and worried and decided to dedicate an entire National Council on Information meeting to examine fake news and hate speech because we saw that people were already exploiting our national front.
“We advise all members of the council to ensure that they can vouch for the credibility of any information before they publish it.
“We also advise them not to share any information whose credibility they cannot vouch for.
“It is true that the major pivotal of fake news is probably the social media but gradually it is also penetrating into the traditional media.