Aidoghie Paulinus, Abuja
Reports of a bomb explosion at the South African High Commission in Abuja are “fake news”, the Federal Government has said, blaming the national opposition People’s Democratic Party (PDP) as being responsible for “underhanded tactics” to “make Nigeria ungovernable”.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, warned those behind what he determined to be an orchestrated disinformation campaign to desist or be made to face the law.
In a statement by his Special Assistant, Segun Adeyemi, Mohammed said such false reports were the handiwork of “the desperate opposition” to destabilise the government.
The South African High Commission in Abuja and Consulate in Lagos have been closed since Thursday following days of diplomatic tensions between Nigeria and South Africa as a result of xenophobic attacks on Nigerians and other foreign nationals in that country.
“The Federal Government has debunked the report being circulated on social media of a bomb explosion at the South African High Commission in Abuja on Saturday, calling the report fake news orchestrated by the desperate opposition to cause panic and chaos among the populace,” Adeyemi wrote.
The government further added that a video of the alleged bomb explosion, which is being circulated on social media, was that of the bomb explosion at Emab Plaza, near Banex, Wuse 2, Abuja on June 25 2014.
"@gidifeedtv: FAKE VIDEO CLAIMS BOMBING OF SOUTH AFRICAN HIGH COMMISSION IN NIGERIA (Viewer Discretion Strongly Advised)
A video widely circulating on the social media in South Africa claims the country's High Commission in Abuja has been bombed. pic.twitter.com/B9n2q0sHjT
— Ride With GidiCab (@Gidi_Traffic) September 7, 2019
“The minister said it is now apparent that the desperate opposition had decided to use fake news and disinformation as handy tools in their avowed determination to make Nigeria ungovernable, having lost woefully at the polls.
”A pattern is emerging of the antics of the desperate opposition to latch on to the use of fake news and disinformation as a strategy to trigger chaos in the country. On Friday (6 Sept 2019), they doctored and circulated the video of my appearance on Channels Television in January 2015 (when I was the spokesman of the APC) to make it look like I was begging Nigerians to forgive President Buhari for not having a school certificate. Worse still, they posted the video afresh, giving the impression it happened last Thursday and that I acted in my capacity as Minister of Information and Culture.
”Unfortunately for them, this doctored video came out on the same day a report emerged that the PDP had sent lawyers and party agents to the University of Cambridge to confirm the authenticity of the President’s
West African School Certificate, only to be stunned to discover that not only did the President write the examination, he also passed.
”One would have expected a party that trumpets its belief in the rule of law, a party that challenged the result of the last presidential election in court, to wait patiently for the impending judgement on the issue instead of engaging in underhand tactics and resorting to self help,” Mohammed also said.
The government appealed to Nigerians to be very discerning at times like this, and to check the veracity of any information they receive.
”This is just the beginning. Nigerians should expect an explosion of fake news and disinformation in the days and weeks ahead. This is because the desperation of this opposition is alarming. But their strategy will fail, just like every other dubious strategy that they have been employing in their desperate bid to grab power,” government added.