Terror Attacks’ Warnings Issued By US, UK On Nigeria Were Not Verified – Buhari’s led Federal Government
Lai Mohammed, information and culture minister, condemned the act on Tuesday in Abuja at a ministerial panel of the ongoing UNESCO Media and Information Literacy Week.
The minister also blamed Nigerian media and social media personalities for reporting the news.
The U.S. on Sunday warned that there was an elevated risk of terror attacks in Nigeria, especially in Abuja, the nation's capital.
It noted that as a result of that, the U.S. Embassies in the country will offer reduced services in the country until further notice.
The security advisory issued by the U.S. Mission said, "There is an elevated risk of terror attacks in Nigeria, specifically in Abuja. Targets may include but are not limited to, government buildings, places of worship, schools, markets, shopping malls, hotels, bars, restaurants, athletic gatherings, transport terminals, law enforcement facilities, and international organizations. The U.S. Embassy will offer reduced services until further notice."
It advised American citizens to avoid all non-essential travel and movement, among others.
The United Kingdom government also warned its citizens in Nigeria to stay alert due to an "increased threat of terrorist attack in Abuja."
"Attacks could be indiscriminate and could affect western interests, as well as places visited by tourists," it said.
Mohammed, a panellist at the UNESCO session with the topic, ‘National Media and Information Literacy Frameworks, Sustaining Beyond Disinformation,’ said the warning issued by the embassies was not the true position of the security situation in the country.
He noted that it could create unnecessary tension and panic, the News Agency of Nigeria reports.
Mohammed said, “Some media outlets and social media personalities are usually caught spreading unverified information on their platforms just for clickbait and the attendant monetary gain.
“Talking of clickbait, this may be what informed the spread of the supposed security alert issued recently by some foreign embassies in Nigeria.
“One would imagine that if indeed this kind of security alert was issued, it was for the attention of citizens of the issuing countries in Nigeria.
“Suddenly, this alert found its way into the media, both new and traditional, thus creating panic in the polity.
“Schools were shut. Businesses were closed. Travel plans were altered. Lives were disrupted. No one cared to find out about the authenticity of these alerts.
“They just published, got the benefit of massive clickbait and damned the consequences,’’ he added.
He said Nigeria “is safer today than at any time in recent times” because of the efforts and sacrifices of the military.
The minister said the security forces had been proactive, adding that the worst is over for Nigeria.
He, therefore, urged Nigerians not to panic but to be alert at all times.
“We do not discountenance the fact that terrorists, bandits and their kind would always want to do whatever it takes to disrupt our nation’s peace, security and stability.
“Well, I can assure all that our military and other security agencies have continued to do everything possible to secure and protect Nigerians and foreigners living in Nigeria.
“Terrorists have been hard hit and put on the run. Bandits have been decimated and scattered,’’ he said.
Speaking on the theme of the session, the minister defined disinformation as “a deliberate act to spread falsehood with extreme consequences on national peace, security and stability”.
He said the threat of disinformation to national and global peace and stability is glaring, as it undermines the trust of citizens in the system.
The minister said people must join hands to address the scourge of disinformation, that was threatening global existence.
In a related development, Mohammed at the 2022 Digital Nigeria Day said the ICT, despite its advantages, has enabled the spread of fake news and hate speech.
According to him, people share news without verifying if its fake or not.
He said, “While technology is a good thing, it has also caused a lot of problems for my ministry in terms of misinformation, in terms of disinformation and in terms of hate speech.”
He said though ICT “has created a lot of jobs, it has also created a lot of problems”.
“So, I want us to use this week to build skills and ability to be able to digest news, analyse it whether it is true or not.
“What we have today, is that people receive information, instead of checking to see if it is authentic or not, they just share to destabilise the nation, to cause religious war, ethnic war and biases,” he added.