The proliferation of fake and hyperpartisan news that has flooded into Nigeria’s laptops and living rooms has prompted a national soul-searching, with officials in the ruling APC government asking how a nation of millions could be marching to such a suspect drumbeat.
“Their campaign to unseat President Buhari is fuelling their desperation, minister of information and culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said Sunday, while accusing the opposition PDP of spreading lies and fake news.
“Nigerians should prepare to see more avalanche of disinformation and fake news. But they should not lend any credibility to such reports. They belong to the trash can!
” As I have said at many fora, we neither paid ransom nor swapped any Boko Haram member to secure the release of the girls,
” This is a fact, irrespective of how a section of the press has tried to spin the story”.
“The insurgents brought the Dapchi girls back to the location of the kidnapping themselves as an apparent gesture of goodwill, following relentless efforts by the Government to find long-lasting solutions to the conflict.
“Unknown to many, we have been in wider cessation-of-hostility talks with the insurgents for some time now. The talks helped to secure the release of the police officers’ wives and the University of Maiduguri lecturers recently. And the talks did not stop thereafter.
“Therefore, we were able to leverage on the wider talks when the Dapchi girls were abducted. As I said earlier, the insurgents decided to return the girls to where they picked them from as a goodwill gesture. All they demanded was a ceasefire that will grant them a safe corridor to drop the girls. This is not new. Even in larger war situations, safe corridors are usually created for humanitarian and other purposes. Consequently, a week-long ceasefire was declared, starting from Monday, 19 March. That is why the insurgents were able to drop the girls. This counters the conspiracy theories being propounded in some quarters concerning why it was so easy for the insurgents to drop off the girls without being attacked by the military.”
“The PDP and its co-travelers do not understand that terrorism is a global problem. A terror attack on any country is an attack on all countries. The UN was among the first international organizations to condemn the abduction of the Dapchi girls and also among the first to welcome their release.
We appeal to the media to be more discerning in disseminating materials that serve no other purpose than to sabotage the ongoing efforts to end the insurgency and secure the release of the remaining Chibok and Dapchi girls. Obviously, the naysayers are growing more desperate and will stop at nothing, including disinformation and fake news, to muddle the waters.
“Finally, let me use this opportunity to react to the fake news making the rounds concerning a supposed Sergeant in the Nigerian Army, named David Bako, who said he was part of an alleged conspiracy by the Government to abduct the Dapchi girls.
This is a classic example of what I have just said: Disinformation and fake news! I can tell you categorically that this David Bako is fake. There is no such soldier in the Nigerian Army. There was no conspiracy anywhere. The intention of those behind the disinformation and fake news is to cause disaffection between Christians and Muslims, and between Southerners and Northerners.