By Rotimi Ijikanmi
The Minister of Infomation and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed says as the 2019 general elections approaches, fake news phenomenon is assuming more vicious dimension.
The minister said this on Wednesday when he paid advocacy visit to the Abuja office of The Blueprint Newspaper, to drum support for the National Campaign Against Fake News launched on July 11.
He, however reiterated the resolve of the Federal Government to push the campaign against the menace without coercion or media censorship.
“Fake news is a global phenomenon. Zambia government recently approved a Bill to regulate social media.
“In Nigeria, we have resolved that we will rather appeal to the sense of responsibility of the media.
“We will not censor or coerce, but will appeal to the good sense and patriotism of the media to self regulate because if we dont, it poses danger to national security, peaceful co-existence and democracy’’ he said.
Mohammed said that the purveyors of fake news had found it as a tool of choice to set the country on fire and de-market the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Specifically, he said fake news was used to aggravate the recent invasion of the National Assembly (NASS) by the DSS operatives.
“What happened at NASS was aggravated by fake news because the world was made to believe that the APC Senators were allowed into the NASS to impeach the Senate President, Bukola Saraki.
“They painted the picture that the PDP Senators were denied access into NASS.
“As a matter of fact, a serving Senator went on air on this fake allegation that the APC Senators were already in the Chamber.
“But for that timely intervention and decisive action by the Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, this government would have attracted international opprobrium.
“It is sad that from all the commentary I have heard, nobody has identified fake news as being a trigger of this and nobody is reconstructing the story,’’ he said.
The minister added that the report that N21 billion, weapons and Permanent Voter Cards were found in the house of sacked Director-General of the DSS, Lawal Daura was also “fake and ridiculous.’’
Th minister said the news was ridiculous because it was unimaginable, how N21 billion in cash could be stored in a safe with 200 assorted rifles, guns and ammunition.
He said it was unfortunate that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) could act upon such fake and ridiculous report to call for the impeachment of the President.
The minister solicited the support of Blueprint and other media outfits in the campaign against fake news.
The Chairman of the newspaper, Alhaji Mohammed Idris thanked the minister for the visit and assured him of the support of the medium.
He, however, noted that politicians had a lot of role to play to stem the tide of fake news because of the dangers it portend for the country.
The publisher also underscored the need to mainstream the media to redirect its focus and be timelier in disseminating authentic news.