FG Moves To Discourage Fake News Circulation 

Joseph Bakare

The federal government has taken steps to address circulation of fake news across the country, especially now that general election is coming near.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who

launched the National Campaign Against Fake News, said the phenomenon is

a time bomb that can detonate with deadly consequences if left


Addressing a world press conference in Abuja on Wednesday, the

Minister also described fake news as a global epidemic that could be

worse than all

the plagues that the world has recorded put together, a clear and

present danger to global peace and security, and a threat to


He said the fake news phenomenon is capable of undermining confidence

in the media, adding: ”Once the people lose confidence in the media,

the media and the society are in trouble.”

Alhaji Mohammed said the essence of the campaign is to ”sensitize all

Nigerians to the dangers posed to the peace and security, and indeed

the corporate existence of Nigeria by the phenomenon, and the fact

that each and every Nigerian has a role to play in curtailing the

spread of fake news”.

He explained that though the federal government has been calling

national attention to the issue of fake news and hate speeches since

last year, ”the timing of the launch is also not unconnected to the

role of fake news in aggravating the various crises in the country as

well as the need to check this phenomenon ahead of the 2019


The Minister said the government will use all the information

dissemination tools at its disposal, work with both the traditional

and social media, as well as the National Orientation Agency (NOA) to

sensitize Nigerians.

He said the campaign will, however, not involve the use of coercion

and censorship, but appealed to the media to lead the campaign, and to

Nigerians not to share any news or message unless they can vouch for

its source and authenticity

Citing instances from around the world to illustrate the dangers posed

by fake news, Alhaji Mohammed said a recent study by researchers at

the Ohio State University in the US concluded that Russian

interference and the fake news it promoted probably played a

significant role in depressing Hilary Clinton’s support on election

day during the 2016 presidential elections in the US.

He also said that in India, about a dozen people have been killed in

the past six weeks just because of fake news or hoax messages, noting:

”The victims were lynched after they were falsely accused of child

abduction based on

fake messages circulated via the social media platform, WhatsApp.”

The Minister said that last week, a national newspaper in Nigeria

reported on its front page that a court has ordered the National

Assembly to begin impeachment of Buhari, which was not the case.

”The problem with that news item is that it is fake news. According

to the certified true copy of the order, the

Presiding Judge of the Federal High Court in Osogbo ordered and I

quote: ‘The applicants are hereby granted leave to issue and bring an

Application for the order of Mandamus to compel 1st to 3rd Respondents

to start impeachment proceedings against the 4th Respondent, the

President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria’. This was manipulated to

read that the court has given the go-ahead for the National Assembly

to commence impeachment proceedings against the President. Fake

News,” he said

The launch, which was sponsored by the NTA, FRCN, and three newspapers

– The Nation, Vanguard and Leadership – was attended by all the heads

of the media parastatals under the Federal Ministry of Information and

Culture, President of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ),

representatives of the security agencies, social media practitioners

and journalists.

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