A chieftain of the ruling All Progressives Congress, Nuhu Ribadu, has blamed most of the country’s challenges on fake news peddled by social media.
“Social media is today, partly responsible for what is going on in our country by trying to promote things that are not true and creating division based on religion and ethnicity among others things,” said Mr Ribadu at a news conference on Sunday in Abuja.
Mr Ribadu called the conference to debunk reports on social media that he accused some top government functionaries of sponsoring banditry in the country. He noted that he has been inundated with enquiries from friends and associates seeking his confirmation on the allegations.
The former anti-graft agency, EFCC, boss said he has “really suffered” because of the report which he knew nothing about.
He called on the government and social media companies to device means of blocking spread of fake news.
“They are not being fair to us, and I think the government has a duty and a responsibility to take action, nobody else can do it,” Mr Ribadu suggested. “Social media companies also have a role to play, I don’t see any reason why Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram will allow such a damaging statement to go out against somebody without stopping it.”
Pushing further, Mr Ribadu asserted that fake news on social media portend great danger to the survival of any country. He alleged that fake news caused the genocide in Rwanda, where close to a million people died, same with Sierra Leone and Liberia.
He said though he was a strong believer in freedom of expression, such freedom should not be granted “If it is going to cause harm to others.”
Mr Ribadu, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress, said he has become a victims of fake news and have had to issue rebuttal on a totally fabricated statement attributed to him, saying it was “unfair.”
The Muhammadu Buhari regime has been pushing to censor social media over claims that it promotes fake news.
Attempts to smuggle in Draconian laws against social media at the parliament have been met with strong pushbacks by opposition lawmakers and the civil society.
Critics worry that such legislation was a ploy to crack down on critical voices and crush dissent in the polity.