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The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, on Tuesday identified fake news and misinformation as major causes of insecurity in some parts of the country.
The minister, according to a statement issued by his Special Assistant on Media, Segun Adeyemi, spoke at the Citizens Summit for National Integration, Peace and Security organized by the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations in Abuja.
He recalled how the Kaduna State government was forced to debunk a report by an online platform claiming that hundreds of bandits had laid a siege on the Kaduna-Zaria road.
The minister also listed the report on the use of a helicopter by bandits to attack residents in four communities of Kajuru local government area of Kaduna State as another classical example of misinformation in the country.
Mohammed said: “This summit couldn’t have come at a better time, with the issues of peace, security and national unity on the front burner of our national discourse. In recent times, in particular, the issues of peace and security have been on the lips of many Nigerians, against the backdrop of rampaging terrorists, bandits and kidnappers. Unfortunately, this insecurity crisis has been exacerbated by the twin evil of fake news and misinformation.
“Imagine the apprehension and disruption of plans that this fake news could have caused. Imagine its impact on the security operatives who are doing everything, including paying the ultimate price, to keep us safe?
“Also, in April 2022, a drone video showing a group of five men wearing red clothes and cooking inside an unknown forest went viral. Those circulating the video claimed that it was somewhere in Nigeria. But when BBC did a fact-check on the drone video, it discovered that it was not in Nigeria. The video was circulated just to create panic among the citizens and put society on edge.
“In June 2022, there were reports of bandits using a helicopter to attack residents in four communities in Kajuru Local Government Area of Kaduna. The Kaduna state government had to debunk the story by clarifying that the chopper was actually an Air Force helicopter dispatched to repel an attack in the area. Again, imagine the panic that would have been triggered by this fake news.”
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