The Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, says the phenomenon of fake news, if left unchecked, poses more threat to the nation than insurgency and militancy.
The minister said this on Tuesday in Abuja at the seventh edition of the National Security Seminar with the theme “Consolidating on the Gains of Counter Terrorism Operations in Nigeria’’.
The seminar was jointly organised by the National Defence College of Nigeria, the Office of the National Security Adviser and the Alumni Association of National Defence College.
Mr. Mohammed said the phenomenon of fake news propagated majorly by the social media “is so serious that it threatened to break the country rapidly even more than insurgency’’.
He noted that to consolidate on the defeat of the Boko Haram insurgent, the armed forces should give special attention to its communication and information dissemination strategy.
“We must pay adequate attention to communication strategy and have our people who will be very active also on the social media.
“It is a front that has been largely neglected which we must now pay special and adequate attention to,’’ he said.
According to him, fake news phenomenon is a situation where someone or some persons will fabricate stories capable of setting one group or religion against the other and send them out through the social media.
“Regrettably, fake news is circulated worldwide through the means of the social media and it travels faster.
“Only recently, we have to refute the fake news that Nigeria today is the most difficult place for Christians to live.
“There was also the fake report that the armed forces of Nigeria armed the Fulani herdsmen and instigate them to carry out attacks.
“All these news are unfounded, fake and have the capacity to set one religion or group against the other,’’ he said.
The minister said the most recent of such disinformation was the news of alleged killing of some members of a pro-Biafra group, the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
Mr. Mohammed said that the allegation was false, malicious and intended to set the country on fire.
He also recalled the recent visit by two leaders of All Progressives Congress, Bola Tinubu and Bisi Akande to President Muhammadu Buhari in London, which he said the champions of disinformation claimed it never happened.
He said similarly, it took the intervention of the U.S. government to set the record straight through a release that its president, Donald Trump, truly had a telephone conversation with President Buhari.