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Set up fact-checking desk to curb fake news, says Lai Mohammed



The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed has urged media organisations to set up a special desk for fact-checking as a panacea for prevailing fake news menace.

The minister gave the advice on Tuesday in Abuja when the Editorial Board of the Guardian Newspaper paid him a courtesy visit.

Mohammed noted that the media was indispensable to the sustenance of a virile democracy, adding that no true democracy could survive without a professional, responsible and independent media.

He said as a result of fake news, the media had not been able to play its roles to inform, criticise and stimulate debate as well as take responsibility for whatever it puts out.

“In an era of fake news and misinformation, the media has a duty to get its facts right.

“The media does itself a great favour by ensuring that charlatans and hack writers do not dominate the media space, as it is increasingly becoming the case here in Nigeria,” he said.

Mohammed disclosed that in the past few days, his office had received appeals from many concerned Nigerians asking the Federal Government to do something about the rising wave of fake news and misinformation.

He said he was also aware that some well-meaning Nigerians had issued such appeals.

“We are not surprised this is happening. As a matter of fact, we saw it coming.

“That explains why as far back as 2017, we started our advocacy against fake news, hate speech and misinformation,” he said.

The minister said the issue of fake news and misinformation was not just about the government alone.

He said fake news had ruined homes, pushed many into depression and done untold hardship to others.

“It is a clear and present danger to all

“On our part, we are undeterred as we have continued our engagement with stakeholders to find a way out.

“Hopefully, we will be taking a more concrete step on this in the months ahead,” he said.

While welcoming the Guardian team, the minister commended the media outfit for being synonymous with independence, professionalism and excellence since its 38 years of existence.

Earlier, Mr Martins Oloja, the Editor-in-Chief of the newspaper who led the team said the media outfit was undergoing re-engineering and diversification for sustainability.

Specifically, Oloja disclosed that the Guardian would be going into TV and Radio businesses soon.

He said the newspaper would remain committed to peace, unity and indivisibility of the country and would continue to use good journalism to promote it.

Oloja was accompanied by Mr Kabir Garba, Editor, Sunday Guardian and Dr Bridget Onochie, the Abuja Bureau Chief of the newspaper.

Rotimi Ijikanmi

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