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Nigerian Police Warns Citizens Against Fake News Dissemination, Promises To Take Action Against Defaulters

13 February
The Nigeria Police Force has strongly criticized the dissemination of fake news and the act of cyberbullying aimed at discrediting officers and the overall police system in the country and has warned citizens to verify news as anyone caught disseminating fake news will be prosecuted.

The statement was issued on Monday and signed by the Force Public Relations Officer, ACP Olumuyiwa Adejobi.

Citizens have been cautioned to be mindful of the information they consume and share online. The Inspector General of Police, Kayode Egbetokun, has directed that individuals involved in cyberbullying or spreading false information should be prosecuted “to the full extent of the law”.

In January, the Federal Capital Territory Police Command Public Relations Officer, SP Josephine Adeh, had previously refuted reports claiming that over 200 individuals were kidnapped in the Bwari and Kuje Area Councils of the FCT between December 23, 2023, and January 4, 2024. She clarified that the actual number was significantly lower “pockets of abductions”.

Once again, on January 21, 2024, the police refuted reports of an abduction at River Park estate along the Lugbe-Airport Expressway in Abuja. They clarified that the supposed victim, identified as Nnandi Agu, had staged his own kidnapping in an attempt to defraud his brother, who resided in the estate.

Subsequently, on January 24, the FCT Police Command also debunked reports of an explosion in Maitama. They explained that preliminary investigations revealed the explosion was caused by an overheated metal refuse bin, resulting in injuries to two refuse evacuators.

ACP Olumuyiwa Adejobi highlighted that the police had observed a trend where individuals and groups maliciously disseminate old content and misinformation on various online platforms. This action, aimed at undermining public trust in the policing system, is considered a criminal offense under the Cybercrimes (Prohibition, Prevention, etc) Act, 2015, and other relevant criminal laws.

He described the spread of fake news as an assault on the security architecture of the country and disclosed that the IGP had ordered the NPF National Cybercrime Centre, to monitor online platforms, and to clamp down on individuals and groups bent on jeopardising Nigeria’s national security

The statement read in part, “The Nigeria Police Force condemns in the strongest terms the dissemination of fake news and the perpetuation of cyberbullying aimed at discrediting the diligent efforts of our officers in maintaining law and order. It has come to our attention that certain individuals and groups have been maliciously spreading old content and misinformation across various online platforms, seeking to undermine public trust in the policing system.

“Fake news and cyber bullying which are criminalised by the combined effect of the Cybercrimes (Prohibition, Prevention, etc) Act, 2015 and other extant criminal laws, not only pose a threat to the reputation of the Force but also have the potential to incite fear and discord within the country.

“In response to this alarming trend, the NPF is intensifying its efforts to combat fake news and cyberbullying through increased vigilance and monitoring of online platforms as the IGP has ordered the NPF National Cybercrime Centre (NPF-NCCC) to clamp down on those individuals and groups of people who are bent on jeopardizing our national security and stability via the spread of fake news and misinformation”

“The IGP also ordered that all perpetrators found spreading false information or engaging in cyberbullying be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. The Police will work closely with relevant authorities to ensure swift and appropriate legal action against offenders.

“The NPF, therefore, calls upon all citizens to exercise caution and discernment when consuming and sharing information online. Together, we must stand united against the spread of misinformation and cyberbullying, recognising that the safety and well-being of our country depend on our collective efforts to uphold truth and integrity. Similarly, we urge members of the public to report any instances of fake news or cyberbullying to the Police for prompt investigation and action.”
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