The Nigerian government has announced its decision to prosecute purveyors of fake news.
In a statement in Abuja on Sunday, the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, said that those behind the fake news had the intention of causing disunity among the country’s various ethnic and religious groups.
The statement was signed by Segun Adeyemi, the Special Adviser to the Minister noted that over the 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 that 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 all latest news in Nigeria of a non-existent bomb blast in Lagos was also widely circulated.
According to Mohammed, the latest strategy being employed by the purveyors of fake news was to attribute to top government officials, improbable statements capable of destabilising the polity, causing tension and threatening the country’s unity.
The minister described the fake news phenomenon as ‘the scourge of our times’ noting that it would “probably get worse in the months ahead”
He called on 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 urged traditional news mediums to join the fight against fake news.