Fake News And Nigeria’s Current Predicament

Fake News And Nigeria’s Current Predicament

For reasons best known to them, peddlers of fake news utilise periods of tension to swing into action. Some of these people are known to perform this mean act for personal gains, but a lot have no obvious reasons. Some spread fake news to douse tensions, others do to escalate it. Some bearers of fake news are known while others are ghosts. But no matter the angle it is viewed from, fake news is harmful.

The present public unrest that is eating deep into society is a by-product of fake news. Of course this assertion has been hotly debated at different corners but every party agrees that the tension was escalated by the way unverifiable news flew about that Tuesday night and the following day. It was as if the country was sitting on a keg of powder and waiting to explode at any moment. Immediately they heard that hundreds of youths were shot dead by the government through the Nigeria Army, all hell went lose. People lost it. Reasoning was ditched as emotion took hold of the body. According to a Twitter user, the country was thrown into mass hysteria, hence no one was thinking straight.

Ok, I know that this essay may not be considered objective by you, but you might want to agree with me that many of the “dead” people mentioned by social media influencers, including celebrities, have “resurrected” and come out to discredit the news. You might agree with me that people edited photos, including the one from a drama, and posted them as evidence of the massacre. You must have seen the photo of the bullets allegedly used by the army to commit the crime, which was later pulled down when people started pointing out that the bullets were blanks. But then, the news that actually escalated the tension and led to the riot that shook different parts of the country was the one that mentioned the massive number of youths that were allegedly killed by the Nigeria Army at the Lekki Toll Gate.

Without verifying the information they received, these youths announced that about seventy to a hundred youths were killed and that their bodies were taken away by the army. Since the government has already been accused of unleashing the thugs that harassed the peaceful protesters and for the disturbances in other parts of Lagos and some South-Western states, nobody sat back to ask objective questions concerning the released information. People rose and began to destroy things without considering the consequences. They started with public properties and then veered off to private ones before finally starting uncontrollable vandalism and looting. All these happened because people had access to social media and they used it without reservation.Now, don’t get me wrong, I did not say that the shooting did not happen, or that people did not die. Though the details are still under investigation, I believe it was blown out of proportion that night. All that is happening across the country, including the massive looting, killings and destruction, wouldn’t have happened if the news were released as it occurred. But, there is no need crying over spilled milk.

Lai Mohammed, Nigeria’s minister of information

Another disadvantage of peddling fake news is that it makes the bearers lose their face. It questions the credibility of the person that disseminated it. It puts a question mark on every information passed by the person. For instance, immediately the “dead” people began to “wake-up”, the credibility of every information released by the youths concerning people dying at the Tuesday night incident became questionable. People started asking for evidence. People started scrutinising the videos uploaded in Soro Soke, the digital platform created by the protesters to make their voices heard. It was actually the discovery of so many fake news concerning the Tuesday Lekki Toll Gate incident that divided the voices that would have fought for justice for the victims of that night. This is one of the reasons people should always stick to facts, irrespective of how unattractive they may seem – retaining their integrity.

Fake news never pays. It destroys more than it mends. It is mostly malicious. No person of integrity peddles false information, especially the one that will lead to the destruction of lives and properties. Today, Nigeria is bleeding, not just because of the excesses of her soldiers that didn’t know when to restrain themselves, but also because of peddlers of fake news that awakened the demon of destruction and stealing that had been hibernating in some citizens.

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3 thoughts on “Fake News And Nigeria’s Current Predicament

  1. Seriously, I couldn’t make much out of the push to change the narrative of what is clear:

    In an environment that’s already saturated with frustration, any attempt to clamp down on peaceful dissent can cause so much problem.

    Does this writer feel that government circle liked the protest at all, even when it was peaceful? This commenter doesn’t feel so convinced on that. The protest was still peaceful as at the time some persons in in government lamented that ‘the peaceful protest was hurting the economy’.

    Was that a justification for enviting soldiers? ( Of course the army has disclosed that they were invited ). To do what actually?

    It made no sense for leaders to publicly address protesters when it was peaceful but to unleash soldiers? Again to do what actually?

    Some of the governors only saw reason to address their people publicly only after they authorities have fantastically mismanagement the largely peaceful movement. Again why should things happen that way.

    Many of the youth that went protesting have no job, are not in the payroll of any public or private institution. Many of them, their families can’t afford a bag of rice that now costs around 40,000 NGN from around 8,500 NGN it used to cost before 2016.

    So what is this author driving at?

    Is it to justify why government should come hard on freedom of speech, which they are now trying to push with the hurried fast track of the previously rejected social media bill?

    1. Dear Kalu,

      Ordinarily, I don’t reply to comments here but I think I need to put some things straight.

      Now, the write-up is about how fake news sparked off the protest, maybe you should see how it all started and find the fake news that led to it here https://www.vanguardngr.com/2020/10/photographer-behind-viral-sars-video-in-ughelli-tells-his-side-of-the-story/

      Then, some further sparks that continued to incite the protesters, read this https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-54628292

      Regarding your insinuation that the government did not address protesters, you and I know that it is not true because every state governor, including Wike that initially objected to it, joined in the march in their states. If what you are saying is about president coming out to address the protesters, that is a different thing. But remember FSARS is different from SARS. FSARS is federal while SARS is state. So, protesters should have listened to their governors, who were the ones to see that the directives given by the IGP were carried out. It has nothing to do with the President in the first place; it is still about misinformation.

      Now you can read this to see where the Lagos state government joined and addressed the protesters https://guardian.ng/news/sanwo-joins-endsars-protesters/.

      Now, on the day of the shooting, curfew was placed but someone, an undisclosed person, told the protesters that the government said they can stay so long as they don’t leave the toll gate – another fake news. I knew this because an NTA journalist conducted interview that Tuesday. She asked some protesters why they don’t want to observe the curfew and that was the response. Sorry, you have to look for that video yourself because I didn’t save it..

      I don’t think I need to go on to make it clear that false information, aka fake news, led to what we are passing through today. Feel free to make further inquiries.

      Look for fake news that were released that Tuesday night. Check for call by celebrities like Rudeboy PSquare and Mr. Macroni that every youth should come out on Wednesday so that the government will kill all of them. That is a war cry. It’s origin were the pictures flying all the social media; it was as if people were waiting for something to happen so they can release those videos and pictures. Mind you, they have all been debunked, but the damages have been done.

      As for soldiers being “unleashed”, I don’t know if you’re not in this country because in cases of violence, which you know the protest turned into before the curfew, soldiers are used.

      I won’t because we have corrupt politicians say what is not true. And I won’t because people are going to insult me get gagged. Remember to always verify before push out. Let objectivity and pragmatism guide you.

    2. Dear Kalu,

      Ordinarily, I wouldn’t have replied to your comment because I allow others to make their contributions. But some of your claims need to be clarified to avoid further misinformation.

      Now, the post is about fake news causing the current predicament Nigeria is into. This news will show you how ENDSARS protest was sparked off by fake news: https://www.vanguardngr.com/2020/10/despite-my-ordeal-no-regret-for-my-actions-man-whose-viral-video-sparked-endsars-protests/. The video that engineered the protest in the first place was amplified.

      Then, to sustain the fire and incite protesters the more, more lies were circulated. See this https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-54628292. This one is just some of the sparks.

      Regarding your insinuation that government did not come out to address protesters, we both know that is not true. The problem was that Nigerians were waiting for the President to address protesters but they failed to realise that the protest was against SARS and not FSARS. In case you don’t understand, FSARS is federal while SARS is under the authority of the state governors. In other words, state governors are the ones to ensure that IGP directives were met by the commissioners of police. But misinformation kept protesters on the street, waiting for the president. This technically means that the president would have been meddling in state government affairs if he had come out.

      In case you didn’t know, here is Lagos state governor marching with and addressing the protesters https://guardian.ng/news/sanwo-joins-endsars-protesters/.

      Other state governors, including Wike that kicked against it, joined the protests organised in their states. So, you might want to ask why the protesters continued to stay on the street when their governors have assured them that they were looking into the matter – false information.

      On the day of the shooting, an NTA journalist went to the ground and interviewed some protesters. One of the questions she asked was why they don’t want to obey the curfew. The young man she directed the question to said that they were told that they will not be disturbed by the soldiers so long as they stayed within the toll gate. Now who gave them this information? Don’t you think the protesters would have gone home if such fake news didn’t circulate? Did you observe that night that they were barricading themselves inside the toll gate? Anyway, as for the video of that interview, you will have to look for it because I don’t have it here. But if you insist, I will search for it and post it here.

      Now, on the night the shooting was happening, Twitter went agog. All of a sudden, pictures and videos began to surface online. People began to share them with frenzy. It was as if these people were waiting for something to happen so that they will share those videos and pictures. Meanwhile, most of them have been debunked. The rest were pulled out later. Do you know the effect of those videos and pictures? Did you hear the war cry by the celebrities and social media influencers? Did you know that Nigerian youths were mobilised that night by social media influencers and celebrities? Did you hear the “come out they can’t kill us all” war cry? Or are you also denying that?

      Now, concerning “unleashing” soldiers that night, you and I know that solders are used to implement curfew laws in Nigeria, especially when violence is involved. And to be honest with you, I am quite disappointed that you said there was no violence prior to the curfew. Of course one of the links I pasted here will help you to understand why you shouldn’t have said that. You must seen other videos, where Dangote trucks were set on fire and things like that. You can say they were government-paid thugs but you have no prove of that.

      See, no matter how we look at it, if lies did not fly about before, during and after the protest, we won’t be nursing wounds now. Let’s start being honest with ourselves.


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