By Umar Muhammad Puma
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, has attributed the escalation of the recent crisis in the National Assembly to the circulation of fake news, especially in the Social Media.
The Minister stated this in Abuja on Tuesday when he paid a courtesy visit to the headquarters of Blueprint Newspapers, in furtherance of the Federal Government’s campaign against fake news, which was launched 11 July 2018.
“When we launched the campaign, we did not envisage the kind of event that occurred at the National Assembly last week, specifically Aug. 7 – Less than one month after the launch. That event, during which the National Assembly was barricaded, is a classic example of how fake news can aggravate conflicts. In fact, it was driven all the way by fake news
‘’A serving Senator led the fake news onslaught, claiming that only APC members were being allowed into the chambers as a ploy to impeach the Senate President while PDP members were barred – FAKE NEWS! No APC members was in the chambers at the time!’’ he said.
Alhaji Mohammed said but for the timely intervention of the Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, the situation could have deteriorated and brought great opprobrium on the country.
He said that in the aftermath of the crisis, news that 21 billion Naira and assorted weapons have been found in the residence of the sacked Director-General of the DSS also turned out to be fake.
The Minister said fake news remains a clear and present danger to the nation’s unity and democracy, and indeed to the very survival of the country, adding that it cannot and must not be treated with levity.
He admonished Nigerians to always check the source of any news item before sharing it, saying”Don’t share whatever you can’t vouch for.”
Alhaji Mohammed stressed the need for the media to take the lead in the campaign against the phenomenon of fake news which, he said, has the capacity to erode the credibility of the media.
He said the visit to the corporate headquarters of the Blueprint was to enlist the newspaper’s support for the campaign against fake news as well as to thank the news medium for not allowing its platform to be used to spread fake news.