Fake news can set Nigeria ablaze – Kaduna Speaker

Speaker, Kaduna state House of Assembly, Hon. Yusuf Zailani, has warned that fake news is capable of setting Nigeria ablaze, noting that it has contributed to the spate of insecurity affecting the country. 

Addressing a one-day roundtable organised by NUJ Northwest Zone in collaboration with NUJ Kaduna State Council on ‘Fake News, Governance and Society’ in Kaduna on Saturday, Zailani said while media contributed immensely and made so much sacrifice in entrenching democracy in Nigeria, parts of the media were also at fault for insecurity in the country. 

Represented by Ibrahim Danfulani, Zailani who doubles as Chairman Northern Speakers Forum said, “the Nigerian media, since independence, has played a remarkable role in the country’s development and stands tall globally. 

“We are all witnesses to the sacrifices of Media practitioners in ensuring the entrenchment of democracy in our dear country, with some, losing their lives, while others who were lucky, served jail terms for daring to challenge perceived injustices.

“Recent happenings in the media circle however, are threatening the successes recorded through the proliferation of fake news which is a dangerous trend, capable of setting the nation on fire. This is why the roundtable is apt and well thought out, bearing in mind prevailing conditions gaining roots from insecurity challenges in the country.

“There is no part of the country that is not grappling with insecurity. The response to these crimes from the media in different parts of the country is what makes its prevalence to either reduce or gain proportion. There is no race or ethnic group that does not have criminal elements. Criminality knows no language or religion. A criminal is a criminal and must be labelled so, not by profiling or stereotyping.

“The Nigerian media must brace up and take the challenge of ridding our country of criminals, without creating hatred or animosity towards a particular group of people. Dangers of fake news perhaps, makes the insecurity problem worse through creating panic, apprehension and genocidal tendencies that could plunge the nation into serious crisis.”

The guest speaker, Mr Emmanuel Bonet said fake news usually is sensational and spread fast, and is not limited to Nigeria but global.

He said all stakeholders must work together to address fake news to reduce conflicts, crises and killings I the society. 

Chairman of the occasion, Sen. Uba Sani, said the National Assembly will work with NUJ and other media stakeholders to amend the Cybercrime Law as well as enact bill to address fake news and stipulate commensurate penalty for offenders.

A communiqué at the end of the roundtable noted that “fake news creates enmity, conflicts, tension, crisis and war. All practicing journalists should guard against sharing of unverified reports in both traditional and social media. Mechanisms should put in place for social media platforms to regulate the usage of fake news or unverified information in their domain. 

“Clear cut laws on fake news should be enacted in consonance with the magnitude of the menace. The laws of defamation, libel and tort should be strengthened to meet present day realities. Stakeholders in the media industry including Nigeria Union of Journalists Guild of Editors, Nigeria Press Council should be fully involved in the formulation of such bills. 

“That the aggressive approach used by government in tackling the Covid-19 pandemic should be employed in checkmating infodemic. That Social Media influencers should be trained on basic tenets of journalism to check their excesses and regulate their activities in line with media practice,” the communiqué said.

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