The Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, has cautioned the media against the use of unverified reports, commonly called fake news, saying efforts must be made to stimulate positive narratives that would lead to national unity.
Buratai spoke at a media workshop organised by the Nigerian Army School of Public Relations and Information (NASPRI) for commanding officers, defence correspondents and digital media professional with the theme: “Fake News as Threat to National Security: The Way Forward.”
The Army Chief, who was represented by the General Officer Commanding 81 Division, Major General Musa Yusuf, said: “I want to urge you to discredit fake news in our society and engender positive narratives that will lead to national cohesion and unity.
“To our most critical stakeholders in the fight against fake news, our media men, I urge you to see this as a clarion call to our social responsibility to halt this ugly trend.”
Buratai said that the way some “unpatriotic” Nigerians downplayed the level of success the army recorded in different operations was “worrisome.”
“More disturbing is the resolve of some unpatriotic Nigerians to churn out fake news in desperate attempt to disrupt the narratives.
“This situation which has played out particularly in the new media environment must be stopped if our narrative in and out of theatre is to be sustained.
“Let me also add that fake news has eaten deep into all spheres of our national lives as such we must collectively put a stop to it.”
Buratai added that the workshop, he believed, would galvanise a robust discourse and create the necessary synergy among stakeholders in charting the way forward to stamp out fake news in the society.
“Let me add that the theme for the workshop is timely and it is coming at a time we are grappling with a number of security challenges.
“I want to boldly state that we have gained mileage against this ugly trend in our collective resolve to bring the situation under control,’’ he said.
The acting Commandant of NASPRI, Col. Mustapha Anka, said that the workshop was to discuss the dreadful trend of fake news affecting the country.
He added that “this year’s theme was carefully selected to discuss the dreadful trend of fake news affecting our society.
“You will agree with me that today, the idea of fake news has become an issue of national concern and indeed a menace.
“Fake news, if not addressed at its infant stage, can pose great threat to the security of our dear country, Nigeria.”
Anka said that the workshop was in furtherance of the training drive of the COAS which was to train and retrain officers and men to professionally discharge their constitutional roles.
He noted that the workshop would provide a platform that would effectively synergise in the area of objective media reportage with contents that do not have adverse implications for national interest.
The Director, Army Public Relations, Brig.-Gen. Sanni Usman, said that the workshop was also to build capacity in army personnel through intellectual interactions with selected resource persons.
“It is hoped that deliberations from the study period will reinvigorate the professional competence of the army public relations practitioners in handling contemporary challenges,’’ he added.