The National Democratic Front (NDF) says the #EndSARS protesters and opposition politicians are using fake news to discredit the Nigerian military.
The NDF raised this alarm in a press statement signed by its Secretary-General Bolaji Abdulkadir on Friday.
According to the group, the protesters are to be blamed for the growing spate of violence and attacks on law enforcement agents across the country having incited Nigerians with fake news.
In a bid to push their agenda, it said the Nigerian Army have been accused of atrocities it did not commit while its personnel are called out in public over incidents they know nothing about.
Worse still, the NDF said the international community are made to believe these falsehoods, especially as it is being sold to them by some supposed celebrities-turned activists.
The National Democratic Front, however, appealed to Nigerians to be more vigilant than ever and begin to subject multimedia on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Whatsapp to basic fact-checking while also interrogating whatever vested interests on mainstream media.
It also urged the Army to expand the cyber component of its Exercise Crocodile Smile VI to counter fake news, including identifying offending sites for clean-up.
Read full statement below:
The National Democratic Front (NDF) is compelled to raise the alarm over the industrial scale weaponization and deployment of fake news by #EndSARS protesters and the opposition against the Nigerian Military.
It is most tragic that at a time when citizens of the country should have been coordinated to pursue the dire reform being championed by true patriots, unsuspecting Nigerians are being conscripted into undermining their country in response because they are being manipulated by the #EndSARS protesters. The incitement of the citizens through fake news is responsible for their growing confrontation with law enforcement and the consequent orgy of arson that is being witnessed in several cities of the country.
In the days since the #EndSARS protests begun, organizations, individual and even families have not been spared with the Nigerian Army being accused of atrocities it did not commit while its personnel are being called out in public over incidents, they know nothing about. In the vilest form of fake news even, there have been instances where the family photographs of unrelated persons are being shared and tagged as those of military personnel that have engaged in human rights abuses.
We have similarly recorded instances in which videos or photographic records of incidents dating back several months or even years are being shared as if they occurred in the last couple of days during the #EndSARS protests just as events that occurred in other African countries are presented as taking place in Nigeria. Accident victims are presented as a casualty of military intervention in the protests while celebrities who were having private moments in their private spaces were reported dead by protest leaders simply to provoke Nigerians into supporting their protests.
Even more worrisome is how the #EndSARS protesters have mainstreamed fake news by feeding international outlets like CNN with lies and then sending their members as talking heads to appear on news shows on such broadcasts outlets to bestow an appearance of facts on the lies they are telling. Some celebrity activists have been recruited for this purpose and they go the extra of leveraging social media like Twitter and Instagram to further promote their lies.
The National Democratic Front, therefore, appeals to Nigerians to be more intellectually vigilant than they have ever been since the campaign of fake news directed at the country will not relent but will rather intensify as the protesters run out of ideas in their bid to cause the worst outrage yet. Nigerians must begin to subject multimedia shared to them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Whatsapp to basic fact-checking while also learning to interrogate whatever vested interests a mainstream media and even indigenous media outlet may have because the age of media objectivity is gone.
We urge the Nigerian Army to expand the cyber component of its Exercise Crocodile Smile VI to counter fake news, including identifying offending sites for clean-up. It should create a fact-checking site that Nigerians run to when they have to verify that the contents they are being fed are genuine.
Our charge to the protesters and the opposition is not to worsen their entanglement by resorting to fake news since they would easily be exposed as scams and fraud when Nigerians realize they have been taken for a ride by the initial information that the protesters, opposition and activists shared initially. They must therefore stop the use of fake news for attention-grabbing.