From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The Presidential spokesman, Mr Femi Adesina has described as fake, reports that the aircraft on which President Muhammadu Buhari recently travelled to the United States developed fault mid-air and that the president narrowly escaped death.
Speaking on Friday in Abuja at a public presentation of a book “101 Fake News on EndSARs,” Adesina described the reports published in some on-line platforms as an example of fake news that has become a major vice and threat to information dissemination in the country.
“It didn’t happen. I was on that flight. We took off from New York, went straight to Santa Maria in Portugal where we refuelled. We took off again and flew straight to Nigeria.
“Where is the mishap? It is a lie it never happened. Do you know the number of people that have been misled by this fake news?
“Fake news is a problem not only to Nigeria, but to the whole world. The traditional media should be careful of fake news, because we must first have a country before digital media can be useful to us.
“We must not allow digital media to be used to destroy our country. Digital media is good, but there is evil embedded in it.” Adesina said.
The presidential spokesman, who said he has been a victim of fake news on many occasions, cited instances where his views were misinterpreted by purveyors of fake news.
The book, written by a Journalist, Dahiru Lawal, x-rayed the dangers posed by fake news on the seociety.
He expressed disappointment that members of the Yoruba group, Afenifere allowed themselves to be misled by fake news about his recent comparison between Buhari and some past political leaders.
Adesina said the traditional media and professional journalists must be more careful because the digital media appear to be dictating the pace and the traditional media now rely on them.
While noting that fake news was instrumental to the EndSARS protest and the massive destruction witnessed, Adesina said the problem would be more pronounced as the 2023 general elections draw close.
The presidential spokesman, who urged all to be vigilant, praised the initiative of those behind the book.
Also speaking, Dr. Umar Jibrila Gwandu, the media aide to the Attorney General of the Federation AGF and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, noted that fake news are always intended to cause harm.
Gwandu urged professional journalists not to allow quacks to take the lead and dictate the pace of information dissemination, because doing so will be a disservice to the country.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of PRNigeria, Malam Yushau Shuaib, who reviewed the 207-page book, said it was intended to highlight the threat fake news poses to societal peace and security.
Shuaib appealed to practising journalists to always cross check their facts so that the public confidence in the media would not be erroded.